Ian Henderson headed home Nathaniel Mendez-Laing’s cross towards the end of the first half, before Paddy Madden’s header levelled matters nine minutes after the break.
Dale had chances to retake the lead and take all three points, but it was a goal in the third minute of stoppage time from Matt Crooks which sealed the victory for Scunthorpe.
Keith Hill made two changes from Saturday’s draw at MK Dons. Niall Canavan came into the heart of defence against his former employees, whilst Callum Camps also returned to the starting line-up, as Steven
Davies and Andy Cannon were the two to make way.
Former Dale man Stephen Dawson had the game’s first effort, when he tested the handling of Ben Williams from outside the area, as the Dale stopper held comfortably.
Only a fine save from Luke Daniels prevented Dale from taking the lead inside ten minutes, when he denied Mendez-Laing from close range. Jim McNulty’s cross was flicked on by Henderson to the Dale wide man, whose volley was kept out by a superb reaction save. The rebound fell to Calvin Andrew, who could only fire well over on the half volley.
Mendez-Laing was involved again ten minutes later, when his knock down found Ollie Rathbone in the centre of the box. Rathbone turned and placed a measured shot, which came off the outside of Daniels’ left post via a deflection off a Scunthorpe man.
It was Keith Hill’s side who were the most threatening throughout the first half, although the hosts had a half chance to break the deadlock just after the half hour mark. Paddy Madden’s shot was blocked well by
McNulty, with the rebound falling to substitute Hakeeb Adelakun who sent his effort well wide.
Mendez-Laing was at the heart of matters again for Dale when his run created space on the edge of the area for a shot which was held down low by Daniels. He then tried his luck from the other side, producing some slick step-overs to again create a yard and strike, this time sending his effort inches wide of the far post.
Four minutes before half-time Mendez-Laing turned provider, assisting Henderson with the game’s opening goal. He gained a yard on his marker down the left side, racing to the byline before producing a dinked cross to the far post, where Henderson had found space and nodded home unmarked.
Dale held the lead going into the interval, but it would only last nine minutes of the second half as the hosts levelled through Madden. Jordan Clarke’s right wing cross was met by the Scunthorpe striker at the near post, as he headed home an equaliser.
Andy Cannon replaced Ollie Rathbone shortly after the hour mark, moments before some last ditch defending from Joe Rafferty denied Scunthorpe a second goal. Madden’s persistence saw him win the ball on the edge of the area and drive towards goal on the angle. He pulled the ball back to the edge of the six yard box towards two Scunthorpe attackers, but Rafferty’s crucial touch prevented an easy tap-in for either.
Unfortunately for the full-back, it would be his last action of the game as he was forced off with injury, being replaced by Peter Vincenti.
The Dale substitute was thrust straight into the action and came inches away from putting Dale back in front, when he headed Mendez-Laing’s deep cross narrowly wide of the far post from a tight angle.
There was a contentious moment with just under ten minutes remaining when Mendez-Laing’s surging run into the area saw him brought down inside the area. Play continued as the ball fell to Henderson who turned the ball over the line, although he was deemed to be in an offside position. However, despite the protestations of the Dale players, play was not brought back for a foul on Mendez-Laing.
Both sides continued to push for the winning goal, as Henderson sent a half volley wide before Jamie Allen forced Daniels into a comfortable save, both from outside the area.
However, with the game deep into injury time, Crooks delivered a sucker punch to Dale with the winning goal for Scunthorpe. A long ball forward was knocked down into his path, and he struck a crashing half volley into the bottom corner to deny Dale a point at the death.