THE determination of the Exeter City players was praised by manager Paul Tisdale after he saw his side battle for more than an hour with 10 men to claim an unlikely three points away at Wycombe Wanderers on New Year's Day.
City had been given an uphill task when Jamie Cureton was shown a straight red card for kicking out at Wycombe defender Anthony Stewart midway through the first half.
However, the players showed good battling spirit and energy to nick a goal in the 83rd minute, through John O'Flynn, to claim a victory that has lifted them to within two points of the League Two play-off places.
"I think what stood out in the game was the nine outfield players that played that hour, they gave absolutely everything," said a delighted Paul Tisdale, who added that he was reluctant to use any substitutes in the second half despite the work-rate the players were getting through.
"I had Tommy Doherty warming up for about 40 minutes," added Tisdale. "I kept saying to Tommy 'the second I see someone flagging, the second I see someone beginning to switch off or lose pace with the game, you'll be on.' But I just couldn't see a way of putting him on."
Wycombe had the best chance to opening the scoring eight minutes into the second half. However, having tripped Joel Grant in the box, defender Steve Tully then watched as goalkeeper Artur Krysiak dived to his left to stop the same player's penalty.
Grant did follow up to bundle the ball into the back of the net, but the goal was ruled out for handball.
Having survived that scare, City hit Wycombe on the counter. Alan Gow produced a moment of magic as he lofted a pass into O'Flynn in the box. The Irish-born striker then hit a low left-footed strike, which squirmed under the body of Jordan Archer and into the back of the net with a helpful prod over the line from Wycombe defender Kortney Hause.
However, it was Krysiak who was to take the plaudits at the end of the match as he produced another stunning save to deny Stewart on 85 minutes.
"He (Artur) is improving," said Tisdale about his match-winning goalkeeper. "He is always going to improve, you are not going to get the finished product with a goalkeeper until he is in his mid-to-late 20s and Artur is a long way from that. But we have a goalkeeper at the start of his career, who is learning his game. He is brave and athletic.
"He is also starting to iron out his faults and that is what any young player should be looking to do and he is becoming a better player for it."
Tisdale also praised his side's defensive performance and added that he could have no complaints about Cureton's sending-off.
"I think we defended the box very well," he said. "If you look at the mistakes we made on Saturday (against Barnet), we spent the last 10 minutes too deep and not pressing the ball.
"When you get into that flow it is very hard for one player to change it, because you get ostracized from the team but, against Wycombe, we had a different mindset."