Coming into the game on the back of a win over Rochdale in midweek, the visitors took the lead early on, with Paddy Madden putting his side ahead.
However, the U’s hit back and levelled through John Lundstram after the break. They completed the turnaround with minutes remaining, as Curtis Nelson poked home in injury time,
Scunthorpe boss Graham Alexander made two changes to the side which defeated Rochdale in midweek, with Neal Bishop and Josh Morris replacing Matt Crooks and Kevin van Veen respectively.
It was the hosts who made the faster start to proceedings, and they created two openings inside the first ten minutes.
The first of those came the way of Lundstram, who made a surging run into the area on five minutes. However, despite flicking the ball over Luke Daniels, the former Scunthorpe loanee couldn’t escape the clutches of Daniels, who gathered well.
Moments later, Daniels had more work to do. On this occasion he was forced into a smart save down to his right, after Liam Sercombe took aim from the edge of the box with a shot that bounced up in front of him.
Oxford failed to make their early pressure tell and, 13 minutes in, Madden fired Alexander’s men ahead. The Iron’s approach play was superb, with the returning Morris slipping skipper Stephen Dawson in. Dawson then had the vision to pick out a loitering Madden, who made no mistake and opened up his body to curl the ball expertly into the right corner of the goal.
After getting their noses in front, the visitors subsequently began to take control of affairs, with half-chances falling the way of goalscorer Madden in quick succession.
The same combination of Madden and his fellow Irishman Dawson manufactured the second of those opportunities, but the U’s’ defence were alive to the danger, and cleared their lines shortly prior to the interval.
The Iron were hit with an early blow after the restart as, six minutes into the second period, Michael Appleton’s side got themselves level. They equalised through Lundstram, who found space at the far post before driving the ball past Daniels and into the back of the net.
Lundstram’s afternoon then almost took another drastic turn for the better, with the midfielder rattling the crossbar from 25 yards out following a cultured effort off the inside of his right boot.
By this point the game had really started to open up, and it would be a matter of minutes before Madden seized on some defensive uncertainty to draw a reaction stop out of Simon Eastwood in the Oxford goal.
Madden would soon again see the whites of the Oxford ‘keeper’s eyes, as he once more gave Eastwood some work to do. Bishop was the driving force behind the move, as he powered on into the area and crossed for the Scunthorpe number nine. Madden did everything right with his header, but Eastwood handled well.
As the game entered it’s final quarter, the Iron were the team looking most likely to find that all important second. Morris tried to conjure up a moment of magic on 75 minutes, with the winger hitting a curling strike from distance which Eastwood held onto.
The hosts went mightily close to taking the lead with seconds of normal time remaining, but Daniels produced heroics to deny Sercombe from point blank range.
Scunthorpe then broke instantly, with substitute Hakeeb Adelakun putting Madden in on goal. The Iron frontman took the shot quickly, however he could only manage to fire over, under pressure from Eastwood.
There was then late heartbreak for Alexander’s men as, in the first minute of injury time, Oxford defender Nelson turned the ball home in a crowded penalty area to put the hosts ahead.
The away side reacted by introducing Craig Davies, but they couldn’t manage to hit back, with the U’s taking all three points.
Oxford United: Eastwood, Skarz, Lundstram, Nelson, Martinez (Hemmings, 82), Sercombe, McAleny, Ruffels, Edwards, Rothwell (Johnson, 72), Dunkley.
Substitutes not used: Stevens, Maguire, Hall, Ledson, Raglan.
Scunthorpe United: Daniels, Wallace, Mirfin (Davies, 90+2), Dawson (Adelakun, 82), Madden, Morris, Bishop, Hopper (Toney, 61), Toffolo, Ness, Clarke.
Substitutes not used: Anyon, Wiseman, Holmes, Goode.
Attendance: 7,652 (394 away).