Billy Sharp scored the only goal of the game as Sheffield United ended their long wait for a win at Glanford Park.
The centre-forward returned to haunt Scunthorpe, where he netted 56 times in 95 appearances at the start of his footballing career, by turning home Jay McEveley’s corner during the opening skirmishes of the second-half.
It was the ninth time Sharp, who progressed through the United youth system before moving to north Lincolnshire, has found the back of the net since rejoining his boyhood club during the close season.
Manager Nigel Adkins, who effectively launched his coaching career with Scunthorpe, endured an anxious finale as Charlie Goode inexplicably headed wide for the hosts during added time.
But with United recording their third straight win and also completing a hat-trick of clean sheets, it proved to be a profitable afternoon for the 50-year-old and his staff.
United, making one charge to the starting eleven which had beaten Coventry City last weekend, began in confident fashion although Scunthorpe created a few half chances of their own. United could have gone ahead as early as the second minute but Dean Hammond, racing to meet a looping ball across Luke Daniels’ six yard area, was beaten by a combination of an acute angle and the near post. Ten minutes later, as the visitors swept the ball brightly around Glanford Park, John
Brayford saw a first time shot smothered by the Scunthorpe goalkeeper while, at the other end, George Long did well to block Tommy Rowe’s shot after scrambling back into position having punched clear a Scott Wiseman cross. As the interval approached, the number of opportunities forged increased. Chris Basham conceded a free-kick on the edge of United’s box which, swept cleverly around the wall by Luke Williams, was read by Long. Paul Coutts saw a powerful attempt palmed away as United mounted a counter-attack although, for once, Matt Done did not offer him a viable alternative as he raced forward in support. It was a passage of play which perfectly summed-up the first-half - a flash of promise but no decisive blow - although United edged it on points. The second started in the same fashion as the opening period as United pressed. Daniels excelled himself to prevent Martyn Woolford but was powerless to stop Sharp turning home McEveley’s 49th minute corner in front of the jubilant travelling supporters. That was the cue for Scunthorpe to rally and, after Rowe had sliced across goal having met a cross to the far post, Long made a wonderful flying save to palm Williams’ long-range strike over the crossbar. Adelakun ruined a promising situation for Scunthorpe when, with team mates surging forward in support, he drilled tamely wide.
Goode should have levelled at the death but, somehow, failed to hit the target when he met Williams’ cross at the far post.
Scunthorpe United: Daniels, Wiseman, Laird, Canavan, Williams, Madden, Bishop (Ness 82), King (Henderson 76), Rowe, Goode, Wootton (Adelakun 60). Not used: Anyon, Van Veen, Dawson, Ness, Clarke.
Sheffield United: Long, Brayford, Basham (Reed 72), Coutts, Sharp, Done (Sammon 64), Collins, Woolford, McEveley (K Wallace 82), Edgar, Hammond. Not used: Howard, Flynn, Scougall, Campbell-Ryce.
Referee: Andy Haines (Tyne and Wear).