Sodje opened the scoring in the 40th minute with a header from Callum Kennedy's cross. After Liam Walker had levelled for Portsmouth on the stroke of half-time with a stunning 30-yard free-kick, it was Sodje again who popped up with an 85th-minute winner for Scunthorpe with a header from another high ball pumped into the box by Kennedy.
"Akpo has not been feeling very well and we considered leaving him off at half-time. But he wanted to go back on and so we dosed him up with tablets," manager Brian Laws said:
When we lost at Crewe on Saturday, Akpo missed three good chances but he has scored both the chances that came his way and hopefully that will do his confidence a world of good because he is very much a confidence player."
It was only Scunthorpe's second home win of the season - their first since September 20 - and lifted them back out of the bottom four. It brought a huge sigh of relief from Laws, who said: "It was a huge win for us.
"This was probably our biggest games of the season. It had been built-up as a 'must-win' game and the players were under real pressure. I have to admit we didn't play well but what really pleased me was the way the players dug in and kept going, knowing we could win, even without being at our best.
"We can play better but we will not get many more important results than this. Our second home win has been a long time coming and it will really lift us for our home game against Crawley on Saturday. This is an important part of the season for us, we have some big games coming up and we need to be trying to win them."
It was tough luck on Portsmouth, who plunged deeper into trouble and have now gone 18 games since their last win.But manager Guy Whittingham felt his side were unlucky to leave Scunthorpe without a point. He said: "I thought we started brightly but then fell away in the first half.
"We have some young players in the side and they have to step up to the mark. There were some harsh words said in the dressing room at half-time but they reacted fantastically well in the second half. On our second-half performance alone we certainly didn't deserve to lose the game.
"I don't often have a go at referees but I thought this one had a poor game and we could have had a penalty in the second half. But the referee was not to blame for the late goal we conceded. That was down to poor defending."