Full-time: Scunthorpe United 1 Tranmere Rovers 3
Two goals in as many second-half minutes condemned Scunthorpe United to another demoralising defeat at a sparsely-populated Glanford Park.
At half-time, the Iron had looked on course to get something against the League One leaders, on the back of an opening 45 minutes in which they dominated and deservedly lead through Karl Hawley's first goal for the club.
But they left the field at full-time to chorus of boos having fallen to pieces amidst a desperately poor defensive display.
Tranmere had threatened an equaliser before skipper James Wallace thundered in a header in the 64th minute and Jean Louis Akpa-Akpro then turned the match on its head 120 seconds later, mopping up after Scunthorpe's messy attempt to get the ball clear.
Akpa-Akpro then completed a comfortable win with two minutes to go, lashing the ball into the far corner after the hosts had been caught upfield.
Hawley had already gone close to opening the scoring before the deadlock was finally broken in the 15th minute.
The former Notts County striker flicked a header over the bar and also saw a low shot saved by Tranmere keeper Owain Fon Williams on the back of a lightning break upfield involving the lively Leon Clarke and Mark Duffy.
Fon Williams was certainly the busier of the two goalkeepers – despite the fact that in Wolves loanee Jake Cassidy and Akpa Akpro, the visitors had a strike force that had already scored 12 times between them this season.
After denying Hawley, the Welsh stopper brilliantly flew across his line to push away a free-kick from 20 yards taken by Duffy.
Scunthorpe, though, were not to be denied for long.
And for all their clever inter-play, the goal came in the simplest of fashions, Jimmy Ryan dangerously driving the ball into the six-yard box where an unmarked Hawley guided it into the bottom corner.
Tranmere lost seven-goal winger Andy Robinson to injury soon after the goal though they still managed to claw their way back into the contest.
Much of their best play going forward came on the break, but the Iron almost always got back in numbers to prevent the ball from entering their box.
Just when the chances in front of goal looked to have dried up, both chances went close in first-half stoppage time.
Duffy cut in from the left to whip in a shot that Fon Williams did well to hold.
That was a much more measured effort than Rovers left-back Zoumana Bakayogo managed after getting in behind the home defence.
He out-paced Jimmy Ryan to work himself a shooting opportunity right on the whistle, but could only lift his effort well over the bar.
Aside from a cross from Abdulai Bell-Baggie, which was glanced wide at full stretch by substitute David McGurk, Scunthorpe had continued to keep Rovers at bay.
But in the space of two, manic, error-strewn minutes, the Iron suddenly found themselves trailing.
Skipper Wallace made it 1-1, rising highest just inside the home penalty area to power home McGurk's outswinging corner via the underside of the bar.
Then, with United still reeling, Akpa-Akpro reacted quickly when United failed to hack the ball clear and stabbed his side in front.
The groans around Glanford Park – inside which there were barely 2,500 home fans – were understandably audible.
And they continued as the visitors began to expose gaping holes on the break.
David Mirfin slid in to deny a certain goal after Slocombe was stranded on the back of denying an earlier Rovers chance and Cassidy should have at least hit the target after being teed up brilliantly by McGurk in the 78th minute.
Efforts at the other end were sadly few and far between.
And as the Iron were caught on the break, Akpa-Akpro clinically condemned the hosts to a third home defeat in five games.
SCUNTHORPE: Slocombe, Ribeiro, Mirfin, Canavan, Newey, Duffy (Barcham 76), Walker, Prutton (Grella 83), Ryan, Hawley, Clarke. Subs not used: Severn, Reid, Jennings, Gibbons, Sedgewick.
TRANMERE: Fon Williams, Holmes, Taylor, Gibson, Bakayogo, Bell-Baggie, Palmer, Wallace, Robinson (McGurk 21), Cassidy, Akpa-Akpro. Subs not used: Mooney, Harrison, Kirby, Stockton, Kay, Golobart.
ATTENDANCE: 2,768 (238 away).