‘Twas a week before Christmas, and all was well and relatively calm in the realms of Plymouth Argyle and Torquay United.

The Pilgrims were sitting comfortably in mid-table of the Sky Bet Championship and Torquay, although not setting the world alight in the National League South, still had promotion aspirations.

Best of all, for Argyle fans in particular, the old chums up the road at Exeter City were on a 15-match winless run that had plunged the Grecians into serious relegation trouble.

Fast forward to a week after the Easter rising and the picture is looking very different.

Exeter City’s controlled 1-0 victory over play-off chasing Stevenage lifted the Grecians to 12th in Sky Bet League One and they are ending the campaign as one of the form teams in the country. Reece Cole scored the only goal of the game on 39 minutes and City manager Gary Caldwell is feeling understandably content.

Caldwell told the club website: "Stevenage are a really difficult team to play against and have had an unbelievable a season. That is a game that I think we'd have lost earlier in the season. The character, the determination and the spirit of the group was first class.

"There are still areas I want us to be better, I want us to recognise when the opposition lock on man for man, but I'm delighted with the result, the attitude, application and desire to win, but there are definitely areas to improve."

Exeter travel to Leyton Orient on Tuesday night for some relaxing end-of-season fare and, on the same evening, Plymouth Argyle face a humungous fixture in their fight for survival.

Since those heady Christmas days, manager Steven Schumacher has left to take over at Stoke City, Argyle appointed Ian Foster as Head Coach, he lasted just three months before being dismissed and the Greens are two points above the relegation zone with five games to play.

There is hope, thankfully, as the Pilgrims delivered an efficient 1-0 win at bottom club Rotherham in the first game of the post-Foster era on Friday night, Bali Mumba scoring the only goal in a game that also confirmed the Millers will be in League One next season.

However, results were not particularly kind to Argyle on Saturday, with relegation rivals Huddersfield and Sheffield Wednesday picking up victories, which means the Tuesday visit of QPR to Home Park is massive.

QPR are just two points ahead of Argyle and definitely not safe themselves and the Pilgrims will know this a game they need to win, as the next fixture is going to be very difficult, with promotion-chasing Leicester City travelling to Home Park on Friday evening.

First-team coach Kevin Nancekivell, who has taken temporary charge alongside Director of Football Neil Dewsnip, told the BBC after the win at Rotherham: “It's been a tough week, a traumatic week for everybody at the football club, so to come and get three points is massive for us.

"It's only three points, we've still got a lot of work to do, but we'll enjoy tonight and then look forward to QPR on Tuesday. The boys that haven't played were desperate and ready to go, so we were just trying something to see if we could get three points, which thankfully worked.”

If the troubles at Argyle have been traumatic, the problems for Torquay United must rank as cataclysmic, existential.

Since Christmas, Torquay have lost their owner, entered administration, lost long-serving manager Gary Johnson, been deducted ten points and lost lots of football games.

The Gulls are at their lowest ebb in a history that dates back 125 years.

After the 1-0 defeat to Welling on Saturday, Torquay sit just two points above the National League South relegation zone and three of the four remaining games are against teams also fighting for survival, including Truro, who will host United at their temporary home in Gloucester on Monday.

“I’m gutted that we’ve not drawn or won the game but, at the minute, the situation we are in is about points,” said interim manager Aaron Downes. “We’ve got to take some positives and it makes Monday a really big game for us. We have to get points from that game and the players know that.

“If they play like they did in the second half, with 11 men, we win on Monday night.

“It is all about the mindset and attitude, and the players have shown a positive attitude in adversity, but we know it’s all about results.”

Argyle and Torquay must get points in this pivotal week ahead, Exeter City’s only concern is what flip flops to take on holiday.