However, Latics made the league leaders work for their win as Stephen Robinson’s men more than matched the Iron for large parts of the game.
Athletic dominated the whole of the first half and will wonder how they did not lead at the break, however, the game turned on its head following the dismissal of Paul Green for two bookable offences.
Scunthorpe United piled on the pressure, which Latics stood firm, however, a strike from 25 yards from Scott Wiseman won the game for the hosts.
The gaffer made two changes to last week’s 0-0 draw with AFC Wimbledon as Paul Green returned from injury to partner Ollie Banks in midfield.
Freddie Ladapo also came into the starting 11, replacing Lee Erwin and it would be Robinson’s men who dominated the first half.
Charles Dunne’s early cross found Ryan McLaughlin racing in at the back post but he could not get the right connection on the ball to send it goalwards.
Athletic started strongly and again went close as Ladapo played the ball into the path of Ryan Flynn who knocked it beyond the last defender but his shot was saved by Luke Daniels.
Ladapo and Billy Mckay were combining well in attack but at the other end, Connor Ripley and Peter Clarke were found to be in inspired form.
Ripley denied the league’s top goalscorer Josh Morris on 15 minutes whilst Clarke was organising the back four superbly.
Ollie Banks was having an influential effect on the game as he shaped to shoot from 25 yards on 20 minutes but Daniels got down to make a save.
Worrying signs followed as Green, who was returning from a calf injury, went down in the middle of the park but the midfielder was fine to continue.
Clarke had to be alert on 27 minutes as Kevin van Veen created space for himself in the penalty area but the central defender managed to get the block in at the final moment.
On the half hour mark came a golden chance for Athletic to take the lead. Mckay won the ball on the edge of the area, fed McLaughlin whose shot was blocked into the path of Mckay but from 10 yards, he put the ball wide of goal.
Five minutes later, Flynn was released in the penalty by Mckay but Daniels again made a great save to deny the midfielder.
Latics dominated the final minutes of the first minutes of the first half and wonder how they did not go into the half time break in the lead.
Flynn forced a smart save from Daniels, whilst from the following corner, Latics could not force the ball over the line from a goalmouth scrambled.
Dunne struck goalwards, Burgess tried his luck but Scunthorpe United just managed to clear the danger.
Deep into the additional time, Ladapo won a free kick 20 yards from goal but Banks’ strike was tipped wide by Daniels, who was Scunthorpe United’s best player during the first half.
It was a lively start to the second half with the home side twice celebrating a goal, both of which were not given.
Firstly van Veen received the ball at the back post, struck goalwards but Dunne on the line managed to clear the danger, indadvertedly off his own crossbar.
A minute later, Tom Hopper thought he had given the Iron the lead after heading home from an inswinging free kick but the linesman had his flag up for offside.
Ripley made two phenomenal saves to deny the league leaders from taking the lead minutes later.
Hopper rose to meet a cross into the box but one-handed, the goalkeeper clawed the ball from behind him and away from danger.
Only a minute later, Morris, who danced his way into the penalty area, fired against the crossbar and from the rebound, Ripley saved van Veen’s shot and held onto the ball.
Green was booked on 58 minutes for a foul on Hopper as Scunthorpe United continued to dominate.
However, seven minutes later, the midfielder received his marching orders for another challenge which the referee deemed worthy of another yellow card.
Down to 10-men, Latics defended resolutely and did look a threat on the counter attack.
Robinson brought on Ousmane Fane and Lee Croft to add ownership to Athletic’s play and they made a difference in the middle of the park.
Whilst Stephen Dawson went close for the Iron, Athletic were solid at the back and it was going to take a wonder strike to beat them.
That goal came on 80 minutes as Wiseman smashed in a volley from 25 yards after the ball was played to him from a corner.
It was heartbreak for Latics who in the first half were much the better team, and in the second defended resolutely.
Robinson’s men continued until the final minutes of the game and almost found an equaliser on 90 minutes.
The ball was rolled back to Banks to strike from 25 yards but Daniels made a save to tip it over the bar.
It was a cruel ending for Latics who for a lot of the game dominated the league leaders but it was Scunthorpe United who came away with the win.
Scunthorpe United: Daniels, Wiseman, Wallace, Dawson, van Veen (Smallwood 88’), Morris, Bishop, Hopper (Margetts 75’), Holmes (Williams 67’), Goode, Townsend.
Subs not used: Anton, Adelakun, Mantom, Clarke.
Oldham Athletic: Ripley, Dummigan (Erwin 85’), Clarke, Burgess, Dunne, McLaughlin (Croft 72’), Green, Banks, Flynn, Mckay (Fane 67’), Ladapo.
Subs not used: Kettings, Law, Wilson, Winchester.
Goals: Scunthorpe United (Wiseman 80’) 1-0 Oldham Athletic