Burnley loanee Danny Lafferty gave Latics the lead with only 12 minutes remaining, however, 10 minutes later, Iron substitute Kyle Wooton equalised.
Manager John Sheridan was forced into one change as Aaron Amadi-Holloway, who limped off during midweek, was replaced by Joseph Mills in the starting 11.
Jonathan Forte missed out from the squad altogether as he suffered with illness.
It was a quiet opening to the game, however it was the hosts who enjoyed the early possession.
Iron striker Tom Hopper had the first half chance of the game as he chased a through ball into the box. He won the race against Joel Coleman, however his lob was well over the crossbar.
Jim O’Brien was next to go close for Scunthorpe United after creating space on the edge of the area but his tame effort was collected by Coleman.
Latics were struggling to get hold of the ball in the early stages, but they had their first real chance of the game on 16 minutes.
The ball was played long for Curtis Main, he held the ball up well and fed it into the path of the onrushing Carl Winchester and his rasping strike was just wide of Luke Daniels’ goal.
Two minutes later, Latics again could have taken the lead as James Wilson’s looped cross into the box was controlled by Mills but his strike went inches past the far post.
That was the best it got for Latics in the first half as the game turned into a scrappy affair.
Just after the half hour mark, Coleman had to be alert to save a Conor Townsend free kick from 25 yards. The goalkeeper did well to tip the ball wide of the goal after the Hull loanee got the ball up and over the wall.
Three minutes later, Paddy Madden had the hosts best opportunity of the first half as he headed against the bar at the back post.
As the half was coming to a close, Mills received the first booking of the game for a late challenge on Scott Wiseman.
The second half started much the same as the first ended as neither side were controlling the game.
The first chance of the second half fell to the Iron, and they really should have taken the lead.
Jamie Ness’ free kick into the box was straight onto the foot of Tom Hopper but he missed his kick right in front of goal and the chance passed.
That was a let off for Latics and they had to be aware from the resulting corner as the corner was onto the head of Murray Wallace but he headed inches over Coleman’s goal.
Sheridan made changes and brought Jake Cassidy and Mike Jones on and changed to a 4-4-2 formation and Latics had a lot more joy on the ball.
It was Coleman however that had tip wide a shot from Madden on 65 minutes, whilst five minutes later he saved from Conor Townsend.
Latics started to put the pressure on and were rewarded with the opening goal of the game on 78 minutes.
Palmer did superbly on the right hand side and he laid the ball into Lafferty from 12 yards and he steered into the far corner to put Latics ahead.
Scunthorpe threw caution to the wind and went in search of the equaliser.
Substitute Gary McSheffrey tested the palms of Coleman on 83 minutes, however 10 minutes after Latics took the lead, they were pegged back.
After a cross into the box was not dealt with, Wooton picked up the ball at the back post and steered into the bottom corner to equalise.
It was a tough one to take for Latics but they almost managed a winning goal in the final minute through Cassidy but Daniels was behind the ball to save.
That result, although disappointing to concede late on, meant Latics went six games unbeaten and a point nearer to safety.
Scunthorpe United: Daniels, Wiseman, Mirfin, Wallace, Townsend, Bishop, Dawson (McSheffrey 64’), Ness, O’Brien (Wootton 84’), Madden, Hopper (Luer 72’).
Subs not used: Anyon, Clarke, Laird, King.
Oldham Athletic: Coleman, J.Wilson, Dieng, Gerrard, Lafferty, Dummigan (Jones 60’), Kelly, Palmer, Mills (Cassidy 55’), Winchester, Main (Murphy 86’).
Subs not used: Cornell, B.Wilson, Brown, Croft.
Goals: Scunthorpe United (Wooton 88’) 1-1 Oldham Athletic (Lafferty 78’)
Attendance: 4,180 (989 visiting supporters)