Keith Hill felt his Rochdale side were worthy winners against Exeter, even if they left it late to claim a 2-1 victory.
Two goals in the final three minutes from Ian Henderson and Bobby Grant did the damage for Dale, while defeat for Exeter sees them clinging on to a play-off place after a poor Easter in which they lost twice.
"It's a great result, it's a result we needed because we don't want to create any pressure on us and that takes a bit of pressure off with three home games to play," Hill said.
"The performance wasn't the late, late show - the goals were, but we deserved it. We played well and deserved to win the game.
"It is a big step in the direction towards us and most of the teams below us have four games to play, so hopefully, we can start planning for next year and get ourselves safe as soon as possible."
Hill was especially delighted with his two goalscorers as well as striker George Donnelly, who he believes can follow in the footsteps of Premier League striker Grant Holt.
"When you are losing, you keep your goalscorers on the pitch. You can't score of they are on the bench," Hill said. "Bobby was anonymous at times, but he has a lot to learn.
"With respect to George Donnelly, I thought his all-round performance was superb. I said to him afterwards: 'Isn't it about time you found a footballing home and settled down and started to learn?'
"I think he could maybe become the next Grant Holt. They are very similar if I am being honest with you. He is my type of player."