A second half double from makeshift striker Scott Bennett ended Fleetwood Town’s unbeaten September run.
The visitors looked content with a point until sub Matty Blair gave Fleetwood the lead with 20 minutes remaining.
But with Bennett’s switch from centre half to striker they found new resolve, former Blackpool man Alan Gow the architect of both goals.
Town should have been well ahead before the Grecians had a sniff, Steven Schumacher forcing a good save from Artur Krysiac in a frugal first half, Gareth Evans blasting across goal early in the second.
Jon Parkin’s late header almost handed Town a share of the spoils but it wasn’t to be, Fleetwood unable to capitalise on Chesterfield’s defeat at the hands of Mansfield Town.