Ten-man Grimsby Town produced a magnificent defensive effort to beat Exeter City at St James' Park and end 2018 with a fourth consecutive league win.
The Mariners took the lead through Martyn Woolford on 14 minutes and held their advantage at the break despite coming under pressure from their hosts.
Their task was made tougher when Alex Whitmore was shown a straight red card just six minutes into the second half and the Exeter pressure eventually told when Jayden Stockley headed them level with 12 minutes to go.
But the Mariners recovered and grabbed their lead back within two minutes as Mitch Rose came off the bench after a penalty had been given to score from the spot with his first touch.
Town then had to survive attack after attack but a superb display from goalkeeper James McKeown and his defence ensured they held firm to earn all three points and keep their excellent run of form going.
Two changes were made to the Town side after the Boxing Day victory at Port Vale, with Luke Hendrie returning in place of the injured Harry Davis and Woolford coming in for Ben Pringle, who dropped to the bench.
McKeown started in goal, with Hendrie at right-back as Reece Hall-Johnson moved to partner Alex Whitmore in the centre and Andrew Fox completed the back four.
Elliot Embleton, Harry Clifton, Jake Hessenthaler, Woolford and Harry Cardwell were the midfielders, with Wes Thomas in attack.
The Grimsby substitutes were John Welsh, Mitch Rose, Ahkeem Rose, Brandon Buckley, Pringle, Mattie Pollock and Sam Russell.
Exeter made four changes to their team as they too looked for a fourth conscutive win.
Their starting XI included highly-rated striker Stockley, who would be out to provide a major threat.
The hosts started brightly, forcing the game's first corner when a cross by Tristan Abrahams was cut out. From the flag, a header from Pierce Sweeney was blocked before McKeown pulled off two good saves in quick succession to deny Stockley.
Another Exeter corner was hooked over his own bar by Woolford after Stockley had headed goalwards, before Woolford was shown the first yellow card of the game for a foul on Chiedozie Ogbene.
The opening goal came on 14 minutes and it was the Mariners who took the lead with their first real chance. A cross from the right found its way through to WOOLFORD, who hit a half-volley which went past Christy Pym and found the net.
Exeter's response saw them get the ball into the net within two minutes through Stockley but the flag had already gone up for offside against the striker.
Soon afterwards, the hosts went close again when Abrahams' curling strike narrowly missed the target after he turned and shot from 25 yards.
A cross from Fox was caught by Pym before it could reach Thomas as Town looked dangerous on the attack, although chances were proving hard to come by for both sides.
Exeter thought they had equalised just after the half-hour when Abrahams put the ball into the net but as he celebrated, the Town players protested and after the referee consulted with one of his assistants, the goal was ruled out for offside.
A home corner came on 35 minutes when a cross was put behind by Hendrie but the delivery from the flag was cleared by Embleton, before the return ball into the box was headed away by Whitmore.
Another corner came soon afterwards when a cross was dealt with by Whitmore and this time, a powerful drive by Sweeney was blocked on the line by Hall-Johnson.
A further corner on 39 minutes was headed away by Cardwell and it eventually led to another one when Sweeney's shot was deflected behind. This time, Jake Taylor's header was caught by McKeown.
Embleton tried a speculative shot from distance three minutes before the break but did not find the target, before Abrahams had an effort saved by McKeown at the other end after Stockley had headed the ball on.
Two added minutes were played at the end of the first half and with no further chances for either side, the Mariners kept their lead going into the interval.
No changes were made before the restart and the first corner of the second half went to Exeter as a cross was headed behind by Whitmore. The flag-kick went to Taylor, whose shot was blocked.
Town's task became tougher on 51 minutes when they were reduced to 10 men as Whitmore was sent off for a rash challenge on Taylor. Before the resulting free kick was taken, Pollock was brought on for his Mariners debut as Woolford made way.
Stockley then went close as the free kick was sent into the box but the striker could not get a clean enough contact on the ball to send it into the net and his header was blocked.
Nicky Law replaced Jordan Tillson in the home side's first substitution, before another corner from Archie Collins led to a header being glanced wide.
A Town throw-in won by Thomas provided an opportunity to put pressure on the Exeter goal but after the ball came to Cardwell, his header was caught by keeper Pym.
Jonathan Forte was the second home sub to be sent on as he replaced Abrahams on 64 minutes.
The hosts kept attacking and a shot by Sweeney was deflected behind for a corner by Fox, which led to Pollock heading the ball clear before a follow-up shot went wide.
Hendrie was booked for a foul which gave the home side a free kick in a dangerous position but after the delivery into the box was punched away by McKeown, a shot from Taylor went off-target.
Ahkeem Rose replaced Thomas in the Town attack with 15 minutes to go but three minutes later, Exeter finally had their equaliser when a cross was met by STOCKLEY and his header went into the net off the post.
The Mariners' response was swift though and they had their lead back on 80 minutes after Rose was hauled down inside the box and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Mitch ROSE was sent on in place of Hessenthaler and his first task was to take the spot-kick, which saw him send Pym the wrong way to make it 2-1.
Exeter set about trying to get back on level terms again and McKeown was forced to make another good save, before Hendrie did well to head the ball away for a corner at the far post, which was then dealt with by Pollock.
Another stop by McKeown saw him keep out a low strike by Collins with his feet, then an effort by Sweeney went over the bar from eight yards as the home pressure continued.
Pollock was in the right place to block a shot from Taylor on the line as the Mariners' defence kept holding firm.
A low cross was touched towards goal by Taylor but again, McKeown was there to gather the ball and keep the Grimsby advantage intact.
Town would be forced to see out an additional six minutes as the hosts kept up the pressure, with Stockley heading against the crossbar as they desperately searched for a second equaliser.
Lee Martin replaced Alex Hartridge in the red and white of Exeter and McKeown made another fantastic save to deny Stockley and keep his header out at the expense of a corner, which was headed clear by Cardwell.
Another corner came when a Sweeney shot was blocked as the relentless pressure on the Town goal continued.
But the Mariners' resolute defensive effort got its reward as they held firm to secure maximum points and end the year on a real high.
Town are next in action on New Year's Day, when Mansfield Town are the visitors to Blundell Park.
1 Christy Pym
2 Pierce Sweeney
34 Alex Hartridge
4 Dara O'Shea
21 Dean Moxey
27 Archie Collins
25 Jake Taylor (C)
6 Jordan Tillson
24 Chiedozie Ogbene
11 Jayden Stockley
19 Tristan Abrahams
13 James Hamon
5 Aaron Martin
18 Jimmy Oates
3 Craig Woodman
8 Nicky Law
7 Lee Martin
14 Jonathan Forte
1 James McKeown (C)
27 Luke Hendrie
19 Andrew Fox
2 Reece Hall-Johnson
25 Alex Whitmore
15 Harry Clifton
22 Elliot Embleton
7 Jake Hessenthaler
16 Martyn Woolford
17 Harry Cardwell
39 Wes Thomas
23 Sam Russell
31 Matthew Pollock
26 Brandon Buckley
30 Ben Pringle
8 Mitch Rose
4 John Welsh
21 Ahkeem Rose
Referee: Christopher Sarginson
Attendance: 4,956 (253)
Next Up: Mansfield Town (H)