Torquay claimed their first win in 12 games to move two points above the drop zone as they defeated Chesterfield.
On-loan Notts County midfielder Joss Labadie got the relegation-threatened Gulls off to a fine start after heading home a cross from Thomas Cruise.
United doubled their lead after winger Jordan Chapell's thumping goalbound drive was back-heeled past Spireites keeper Tommy Lee by target man Howe.
Liam Cooper then headed home sub Mark Randall's cross but United held on.
VIEW FROM THE DRESSING ROOM
Chesterfield manager Paul Cook told BBC Radio Sheffield:
"If you don't start a game you don't win it and we gave ourselves a mountain to climb - after eight minutes you're 2-0 down.
"I'm certainly not going to blame the players, we've had an up and down season and it seems to continue.
"Where we're at today and where we want to be are two different places. Unfortunately tonight we hold our hands up, it's not good enough."