Full-time: Scunthorpe United 2 Portsmouth 1
AKPO Sodje's first goals for Scunthorpe United earned the club a first home win in more than four months and moved them back out of League One's bottom four.
The former Preston North End striker, criticised for a hat-trick of misses as the Iron were beaten at Crewe Alexandra days earlier, netted a brace of headers at the end of each half to sink struggling Portsmouth.
Not since a single-goal success against Colchester United in September had United triumphed at Glanford Park.
But Sodje headed in from close range following Callum Kennedy's left-wing cross in the 40th minute and though Pompey levelled through Liam Walker's brilliant free-kick in first-half stoppage time, the giant front man struck again with just five minutes to play to earn his side a dramatic victory.
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Portsmouth, without a win in 17 games going into this clash, had started brightly, moving the ball quickly into the final third at every opportunity, looking for the lively Walker down the left flank.
Home hearts were in mouths with just five minutes on the clock as Pompey striker James Keene almost capitalised on some nervy defensive play.
Keene, on loan from Swedish side IF Elsborg, cleverly anticipated a headed back pass from Niall Canavan, but fortunately for the Iron, although the visiting front man got a toe to the ball as it made its way to Sam Slocombe, off balance, he could only flick it over the top of the bar as well as the United goalkeeper.
During the opening quarter, Portsmouth surged through the Scunthorpe midfield almost as if it wasn't there.
The home side also made it too easy for their opposition in the final third, where their play lacked cohesion and composure when they got in and around the penalty area.
Mark Duffy put in a dangerous ball after out-witting marker Yassin Moutaoukil down the left hand touchline and Andy Barcham had a low shot on the turn, in the 10th minute, held by visiting stopper Simon Eastwood.
It signalled the start of a shift in momentum, but rarely did a goal look like coming.
The exception was in the 21st minute, when Sodje made light of a couple of Portsmouth defenders to squeeze the ball into space on the edge of the penalty area and the fire in a shot which Eastwood diverted away with his studs.
Scunthorpe continued to huff and puff in search of an opener that on the balance of play would have been deserved.
They finally found it five minutes before the break, when Callum Kennedy swung the ball in from out wide and Sodje guided it into the bottom right corner.
One-nil could have been two within 120 seconds, but when racing through on goal, Andy Barcham opted to curl his shot to the left of Eastwood – when he should have gone right – and the Pompey keeper caught the ball.
Needlessly, United gave the rattled away side the opportunity to get back into the game.
For sure, Walker's free-kick, from just outside the angle of the box, was exquisite, pinpoint, flying into the top corner past Slocombe's despairing dive.
But the fact Portsmouth were allowed a free shot at goal at such a crucial time was unforgivable, with Canavan clumsily felling Ashley Harris when the midfielder was going nowhere.
Momentum was something neither side were able to grasp after the break.
Scunthorpe – who replaced Barcham with Mike Grella – asked more questions, but as has been the case so often this season, shooting opportunities were limited.
The Iron survived the visitors' penalty shouts when Canavan blocked a powerfully hit shot from range with his upper body before Paul Reid bounded across the box to block Keene's low cross after the Pompey man had skinned his centre-back partner.
Unable to assert himself on the second half as he had in the opening 45 minutes, Duffy passed up a perfect opportunity to fire his side in front.
Found with time and space in the 18-yard box, on the back of some fantasy footwork from Michael Collins, the Iron winger attempted to curl a shot into the far corner of the net, when a low, powerful strike would have been the better option.
As the contest entered the closing stages, United's forays forward seemed to be more in hope than expectation.
Yet with five minutes to play, Kennedy lifted a first time ball into the box, after an initial Iron cross had been blocked, and Sodje stole in front of his marker to nod the ball into the back of the net and secure what could potentially be a huge, huge win.
SCUNTHORPE: Slocombe, Newey, Reid, Canavan, Kennedy, Duffy, Ryan (Walker 72), Collins, Barcham (Grella 46), Hawley, Sodje. Subs not used: Severn, Mirfin, Godden, Wootton, Adelakun.
PORTSMOUTH: Eastwood, Moutaoukil, Sodje, Gyepes, Webster (Butler 87), Reed, Ertl, Harris (Cooper 75), Walker, Wallace, Keene. Subs not used: Smith, Rocha.
ATTENDANCE: 2,596 (205 away).