Richie Bennett pointed Port Vale to their biggest win of the season so far, scoring two magnificent goals in a man of the match performance.
The victory meant the Grecians not only lost their first game of the new year but also their first in their last 11 matches.
Delighted Vale manager John Askey said: “To get a win the way we did in the second half was fantastic. I am really proud of them.
“I am pleased with the performance in the second half. It was probably as good a win as we have had all season.”
Nicky Ajose scored the first goal in the 22nd minute with a brilliant header, assisted by number 20 Jayden Richardson, to give the lead to the visiting Grecians.
But Bennett equalised at the beginning of the second half and warmed a cold evening for the fans with a penalty in the 50th minute
Leon Legge electrified the 3,347 crowd with a second goal for the Valiants in the 63rd minute
Bennett converted a magnificent pass by teammate Scott Burgess to an amazing goal in the 70th minute.
The match turned around in the second half for the Valiants and Askey said: “We have learned hopefully from the Swindon game, and this one, that you can’t always play in your own half of the pitch.
“Sometimes you just have to hit the space and have runners going in behind.”
Dickenson in the 48th minute was about to change the scenario with what looked a certain second goal for the Grecians if Port Vale’s defender Luke Joyce hasn’t acted a goalkeeper with no hand and saved his team.
Bennett missed a couple of opportunities on target that were inches away from the goal.
Dickenson got a yellow card in the 49th minute, while gifting Vale their penalty
Two of the goalscorers left the action of the game at the same time one the 84th minute, Bennett for Tom Pope and Ajose for Randell Williams.