United’s unbeaten run in 2013 ended as they went down 1-0 to Crewe Alexandra at Gresty Road.
Despite having the lion’s share of the chances, they were undone by a late goal from substitute Adam Leitch Smith.
The Iron missed a number of chances to have been out of sight before Tom Newey was adjudged to have fouled Byrom Moore in the 77th minute and despite Iron shotstopper Sam Slocombe saving the resulting penalty he was powerless to prevent the follow-up from hitting the back of the net as the visitors somehow snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
The Iron went into the game unchanged from last week’s 1-1 draw with Carlisle United.
That meant the visitors lined up with Sam Slocombe in goal; in front of him were a back four from left to right of Callum Kennedy, Niall Canavan, skipper Paul Reid and Tom Newey.
The midfield consisted of Andy Barcham, Michael Collins, Jimmy Ryan and Mark Duffy, while up top Akpo Sodje partnered seven goal Karl Hawley.
Going into the game unbeaten since the start of 2013 had certainly given the Iron a new found confidence and it was they who started the brighter; Barcham crashing an effort against Steve Phillips left hand
upright after three minutes and for a side looking up at the play-offs Crewe were very slow out of the blocks.
Indeed in a tepid first half where misplaced passes were more common than chances for the home side, it took until 25 minutes for them to carve out a chance, when only a last ditch Reid header prevented Alex skipper’s Luke Murphy’s shot from crossing the line after Slocombe struggled to get distance on a punch.
On the half hour, the home side were almost behind after hitting the self destruct button. After jinking past his defender, Duffy whipped a low ball across the front of the six yard box, which Harry Davis would have diverted into the back of his own net but for a superb one handed save by Phillips.
The Iron did have the ball in the back of the net from a well worked corner only for referee Brendan Malone to rule that Canavan had barged the goalkeeper and ball over the line.
With few options on the bench, having only named six substitutes it was no surprise that Laws elected to stick with the same 11 for the start of the second period, as both sides made no changes at the interval.
Just two minutes into the half and Sodje had what was arguably the best chance of the game so far.
After being slid through by Duffy and turning his full back the big number nine found space just eight yards out, but instead of testing the Alex keeper he fired over the crossbar.
After what had been a lukewarm first half, the game began to come to the boil.
First another great last ditch tackle prevented Max Clayton from letting fly, then when the home side did have the ball in the back of the net he was denied by an assistant’s flag.
But it was by no means one-way traffic as at the other end Hawley should have done better after Sodje’s reverse ball saw him clear then Barcham twice had efforts – both going the wrong side of the post, all inside 15 minutes.
On the hour mark, Crewe boss Steve Davis chose to end namesake Harry’s afternoon of torment at the hands of Duffy, replacing him with Mark Ellis.
But any hopes the substitute would prove more effective against Duffy were soon dispelled when again the winger whipped in another ball only for Sodje to scoop over from six yards as worryingly the Iron let yet another easy chance go begging.
With twenty minutes left, the home side replaced Clayton and Pogba with Ryan Coloclough and Adam Leitch Smith, scorer of one of the goals in the corresponding fixture at Glanford Park.
Moments later the plan appeared to have been executed to perfection; with the latter finding the back of the net.
Tom Newey was adjudged to have fouled Moore inside the area, up stepped the skipper Murphy who saw his low shot brilliantly saved by Slocombe, only for Leitch Smith to in the rebound.
On 77 minutes, and after having enough chances on his own to have put the game beyond doubt, Sodje was withdrawn, with Grella his replacement.
Then with just seven minutes left Laws threw caution to the wind introducing Godden as the Iron went with a four strong strike force.
Despite this, and four minutes of added time, the home side comfortably held on to their slender advantage, leaving the Iron still in the relegation places.
Crewe Alexandra: Phillips, Tootle, Davis (Ellis 61), Dugdale, Clayton (Colclough 71), Murphy, Pogba (Leith Smith), Moore, Mellor, Osman, Inman.
Substitutes: Martin, Turton, Robertson, Aneke.
Scunthorpe United: Slocombe, Kennedy, Newey, Reid, Canavan, Ryan, Duffy, Collins, Barcham (Godden 83), Sodje (Grella77), Hawley.
Substitutes: Severn, Mirfin, Adelakun, Walker.
Attendance: 4,302 (315 away).