DARREN Ferguson was aggrieved with his Doncaster Rovers side despite watching his player battle back from a goal down to maintain their place in the League Two automatic promotion at Exeter.
Rovers went a goal behind soon into the second half before the game was turned on its head with the introduction of substitute Liam Mandeville.
Mandeville scored one and made two others for John Marquis as Rovers claimed a ninth win of the season.
Ferguson was quick to praise the impact of the substitute but gave a sharp blast to the rest of the squad in the dressing room at full time.
The Rovers boss said: "The reason we won the game was Liam Mandeville. Up until that game we were no where near where we should be.
"There's no excuses for the performance. We didn't function as a team, we were no where near good enough on the ball.
"I was very brief with my players after the game. They know exactly what I feel about the performance and it'll stay in the dressing room.
"I'm just pleased we managed to dig out a win because the win is the most important thing."
Despite a frantic beginning, neither side could force a breakthrough in the opening 45 minutes.
Rovers' topscorer this season, Tommy Rowe, drew a fine save from James Hamon from the edge of the box while Joe Wright headed a John Marquis cross over the bar.
The deadlock was soon broken after the restart but it went the way of the home team.
Rovers goalkeeper Marko Marosi was at fault as he conceded a penalty with a foul on David Wheeler and Reuben Reid smashed home the resultant spot-kick, despite Marosi guessing correctly.
Mandeville was then introduced by Darren Ferguson on 69 minutes and sparked a late turnaround, heading home the equaliser and setting up John Marquis for a brace.
The victory kept Rovers in third place in League Two, eight points behind runaway leaders Plymouth but now only one below Carlisle United in second.
In turn, Ferguson's side have a three-point cushion to the teams Portsmouth and Luton who both occupy play-off positions.
Exeter: Hamon, Stacey, Sweeney, Oakley, Woodman, Wheeler (Simpson 78), James, Taylor, Holmes, Watkins, Reid (Jay 83). Subs not used: Olejnik, Grant, McAlinden, Ripley-Lowe, Brown.
Doncaster Rovers: Marosi, Mason (Mandeville 69), Wright (Alcock 57), Butler (Baudry 46), Evina, Houghton, Blair, Calder, Rowe, Coppinger, Marquis. Subs not used: Etheridge, Keegan, Beestin, Longbottom. Referee: Charles Breakspear (Surrey)
Attendance: 3,540 (332 away)