The team missed a penalty and gifted United the lead on 50 minutes but recovered impressively with three goals in the space of 11 minutes to secure a 3-1 win and a first three-point haul in the Premier League 2 since October.
Keanan Bennetts began the comeback on 59 minutes, Jack Roles made it 2-1 on 63 and Kazaiah Sterling made amends after missing from the spot to rifle home the third on 70 minutes. That goal was set up by Oliver Skipp, who gave the ball away for United's opener.
Compact and resolute defensively throughout, we gave little away. Indeed, United only really threatened once in the first half when Indy Boonen headed against the post and twice after the break when striker Josh Bohui was narrowly off target.
Energised after equalising, the players didn't look back and once ahead, they weren't going to allow this one to slip away.
The result lifted the team off the bottom of Premier League 2, Division One, leapfrogging United and now Sunderland - a point further ahead having played a game more - will be in their sights.
Below: Keanan Bennetts takes on Tyrell Warren
CAGEY START: WHITEMAN TESTED - 0-32mins
It was a quiet start to proceedings at Old Trafford with neither side over-committing to attack. We defended well when we had to, put a foot in and stayed well-organised. The only effort of note came after six minutes when Ethan Hamilton connected well from distance, a shot well saved by Alfie Whiteman.
PENALTY SAVED: PEREIRA DENIES STERLING - 34mins
Shilow Tracey took off for the first time down the left on 33 minutes and was upended in the box by Tyrell Warren. Sterling stepped up from the penalty spot, aimed for the bottom left corner but Joel Pereira read it and made a comfortable save down to his right.
WOODWORK: UNITED HIT THE POST - 40mins
The closest either team came to breaking the deadlock in the first half arrived on 40 minutes when Tahith Chong nodded back for Warren and his cross was met by Indy Boonen darting into the six-yard box, his header striking the inside of the post and back to Whiteman. Roles pinged in a curler from 20 yards just before the break, saved by Pereira.
GOAL: UNITED 1-0 SPURS - TAHITH CHONG - 50mins
The opener came after another United attack had come to nothing. Chong played in Josh Bohui, whose shot was blocked and collected by Whiteman and the danger looked over. Whiteman bowled out to Skipp, who tried to square for Jaden Brown but under-cooked the pass, allowing Chong to intercept, dart into the box and slide home for 1-0.
GOAL: UNITED 1-1 SPURS - KEANAN BENNETTS - 59mins
We were behind for only nine minutes thanks to a poacher's goal from Bennetts. Sterling's shot initially struck Hamilton, Bennetts got to the loose ball at the same time as Joe Riley and his block tackle saw the ball cannon back off Hamilton and he was alive to control and fire across Pereira into the far corner from the left angle.
Below: Jack Roles jumps for joy after making it 2-1
GOAL: UNITED 1-2 SPURS - JACK ROLES - 63mins
The players' tails were up and that was typified by Roles. Ro-Shaun Williams rolled home a back-pass to Pereira, Roles sprinted in to close down, Pereira tried to turn rather than clear and paid the price as Roles snapped in to tackle and the ball flew into the empty net. That was Roles' third goal in as many matches.
GOAL: UNITED 1-3 SPURS - KAZAIAH STERLING - 70mins
The crucial third goal arrived with 20 minutes left and owed much to Skipp, who won a 50-50 with Williams and in an instant, slid in the perfect pass between defenders for Sterling, who rifled into the roof of the net from 14 yards.
COACH WAYNE BURNETT SAID
"We had to be resilient and show character. We missed the penalty, gave a silly goal away but then managed to get ourselves back into the game with three goals in 11 minutes. I'm really pleased the players showed that character, kept going and going and pleased with how well we managed the game after going 3-1 up. We have found it hard to get wins so this will give the players belief, because we haven't necessarily played as badly as the results suggest.
"This is a massive win. It gets us off the bottom of the table, we've a game in hand on Sunderland and hopefully now we can push forward. We've a tough game next against Liverpool but we want to start progressing and this is a platform to move forward."
Manchester United: Pereira, Riley (c), Warren, R. Williams, O'Connor, Hamilton, Barlow (Burkart 74), Chong, Gomes (Buffonge
79), Boonen (Kehinde, 71), Bohui. Substiutes (not used): O'Hara, Olosunde.
Spurs: Whiteman, Eyoma, Brown, Skipp, C Maghoma, Dinzeyi (Duncan 57), Tracey (Griffiths 87), Marsh (c), Sterling, Roles (Pritchard 79), Bennetts. Substitutes (not used): Austin, Lyons-Foster.
Goals: Manchester United - Chong 50. Spurs - Bennetts 59, Roles 63, Sterling 70.
Yellow cards: Manchester United - Warren. Spurs - Bennetts, Tracey.
Referee: Andrew Miller.
Title-chasing Liverpool are next for the team in the Premier League 2 at Stevenage next Monday, 5 February (7pm).