Grimsby Town were left to rue missed chances as Scunthorpe United won the northern Lincolnshire derby at Blundell Park.
The Mariners produced a performance full of effort and determination against their nearest neighbours and were the better side for much of the contest.
But as had been the case in other recent games, they were unable to convert their opportunities and this time, were made to pay.
Matt Green went close early on and Max Wright hit the post in two of Town's best opportunities as Scunthorpe offered little in attack over the first hour.
But when the visitors did get a chance, they were clinical and Kevin van Veen provided the moment of quality to ultimately settle the game and send the points back down the M180.
One change was made to the Town side that started last week's goalless draw at Carlisle, with Charles Vernam coming in for the injured James Hanson.
James McKeown began in goal, with Luke Hendrie, Harry Davis, Luke Waterfall and Liam Gibson forming the defence.
Harry Clifton, Jake Hessenthaler and Ethan Robson were the midfielders, with Wright and Vernam either side of Green in attack.
The Grimsby substitutes were Ludvig Ohman, Harry Cardwell, Joe Starbuck, Ahkeem Rose, Moses Ogbu, Sam Russell and Mattie Pollock.
Scunthorpe arrived at Blundell Park on an excellent run of five wins from their last six games which had taken them clear of trouble at the bottom end of League Two.
Former Town boss Paul Hurst made his first league return to the club with the Iron and made two changes from their 2-2 draw with Colchester last time out, as Junior Brown and Levi Sutton replaced Jordan Clarke and Abo Eisa.
After a quiet start, Scunthorpe won the first corner of the game on five minutes but it came to nothing as a free kick waas eventually given for a push by Rory McArdle.
Town's first attaack saw Gibson get down the left and his cross was retrieved by Clifton on the right but when the ball was put back into the penalty area, it was headed out for a throw-in.
Hessenthaler headed over the bar after a good build-up led to a chipped cross from Hendrie, before another home attack led to Vernam's header being collected by away goalkeeper Jake Eastwood.
Hendrie did well to get back and challenge Levi Sutton to stop a Scunthorpe counter-attack, before the first real chance of the game saw Green get in behind the visitors' defence but Eastwood came off his line to block the striker's shot.
McKeown had to push a cross over his bar for a corner on 19 minutes but van Veen's delivery was cleared at the near post.
Another opportunity for the Mariners came following a block tackle by Waterfall on Yaann Songo'o on the edge of his own box. Vernam found Wright in space on the right and he advanced to the edge of the Scunthorpe penalty area but his shot crashed off the post and went out for a goal kick.
A late challenge on Wright earned Junior Brown the first yellow card of the game on 26 minutes. Hessenthaler's ball from the free kick was headed away by McArdle, who got to it ahead of Waterfall.
The away side were forced into the first substitution two minutes later as Songo'o appeared to still be feeling the effects of Waterfall's challenge a few minutes earlier and could not continue. He was replaced by Jamie Ward.
Another opportunity came when a good touch by Wright sent Robson away through the middle towards the edge of the penalty area but he was tripped by Harrison McGahey, who was booked. Robson's shot from the free kick hit the Scunthorpe wall and his return ball into the box was headed clear.
Clifton was booked for pulling van Veen down as the striker looked to break clear inside the Town half on 36 minutes but the free kick was headed clear by Waterfall.
A cross from Wright was headed out for a corner by McArdle on 43 minutes but Waterfall was penalised for handball after Hessenthaler's delivery from the flag.
Three added minutes were played at the end of the first half and Waterfall headed harmlessly wide from a Hessenthaler free kick in the first of them.
That proved to be the last opportunity of a half which the Mariners had edged and created the better chances in, although the game remained goalless at the interval.
No further changes were made before the restart and the hosts began brightly, putting balls into the Scunthorpe box and showing attacking intent.
A cross from Wright was headed behind for a corner by Ntlhe but after the ball from it eventually dropped for Waterfall, he fired off-target.
Vernam got the byeline on the left soon afterwards and sent over a low cross which was met by Wright but Eastwood managed to block the shot.
At the other end, a shot from Ntlhe was well held by McKeown but most of the attacking was being done by the Mariners and Robson was the next to get into the penalty area, although he could not hit the target.
A foul on Wright in the centre circle and from it, the ball came to Hendrie on the right. He cut into the box after playing a one-two with Wright but was unable to work an opening for a shot until it was too late.
John McAtee replaced Brown for the away side on the hour and within two minutes, they were ahead. Town had created all of the danger in attack but were punished for not taking their chances when Ward broke through the midle and slipped the ball to VAN VEEN, who confidently beat McKeown.
Van Veen was booked for his over-enthusiastic celebrations in front of the Town fans in the Young's Stand but the visitors were now full of confidence as the Mariners were forced to regroup.
Rose replaced Clifton with 20 minutes to go and Ogbu was sent on in place of Green soon afterwards.
Ntlhe was shown a yellow card after the referee adjudged him to have dived in the box under a challenge from Robson, before Wright was caught by James Perch off the ball in an incident which was not seen by the referee.
A Town penalty appeal seconds later was also turned down by the referee after Ogbu looked to have been fouled. Interim manager Anthony Limbrick was shown the yellow card for his protests, before Ward became the latest Scunthorpe player to be booked.
A foul on Rose gave the Mariners a free-kick inside the Scunthorpe half on 82 minutes and after Wright was booked for an earlier trip on Ntlhe, Hessenthaler's free-kick was cleared.
Another foul on Rose brought a free kick in a promising position on the right but Robson's shot was pushed out for a corner by Eastwood. Robson's corner was also cleared but Town worked the ball back to Wright on the left, although his cross was over-hit and went out for a goal kick.
Substitute Ward was himself taken off with five minutes to go as Jamie Proctor was sent on in his place.
A great cross-field ball by Hendrie sent Vernam away down the left but his low shot was pushed away by the keeper, as was the rebound.
Another Town attack soon afterwards led to a corner on the right but again, they could not make it count as Waterfall headed over the bar.
Gibson won a corner as the hosts continued to push forward in search of an equaliser. Again, the ball from the flag was cleared.
The fourth official signalled five added minutes to be played at the end of the game and McKeown made a great save to stop Proctor from making the points safe.
Seconds later, Town were almost level but again, were unable to find the net as Rose shot just wide from the edge of the box.
Vernam fired over the bar in what turned out to be Grimsby's last chance to get something from the game and instead, Scunthorpe were left to celebrate with their travelling supporters.
Town are next scheduled to be in action on Boxing Day, when they are due to travel to Macclesfield Town.
Town: McKeown (c), Hendrie, Davis, Waterfall, Gibson, Hessenthaler, Robson, Clifton, Vernam, Wright, Green.
Subs: Russell, Pollock, Starbuck, Öhman, Rose, Cardwell, Ogbu.
United: Eastwood, Brown, Ntlhe, McGahey, McArdle (C), Songo'o, Perch, Sutton, Novak, Gilliead, Van Veen.
Subs: Watson, Bedeau, Butler, McAtee, Miller, Proctor, Ward.
Attendance: 7385 ( 1735)
Referee: Tom Nield
Possession: Town 56% - 44% United
Next Up: Macclesfield Town (A)