THE run had to end somewhere but nobody in the Vanarama Conference expected United to lose their 10-game unbeaten streak with a defeat at the bottom club.
Telford started like a train and deservedly took the lead through Mike Grogan on seven minutes but Angus MacDonald quickly equalised, and when Ryan Bowman gave United a lead on 31 minutes it looked like another comfortable three points.
Rod McDonald quelled that hope with a leveller just before the interval and the Gulls were under massive pressure when Toby Ajala was dismissed for two bookings early in the second-half. Things went from bad to worse as Steve Akrigg restored the Bucks’ advantage with a bizarre third.
Back to United, and Josh Wakefield made it 3-3 with 20 minutes remaining, only for Adam Farrell to grab a late winner and Aaron Downes completed a dismal afternoon by receiving a straight red for a silly challenge in the dying seconds.
Once again, United manager Chris Hargreaves had the luxury of naming the same team and bench from last weekend’s 2-0 win over Dover. Telford boss Liam Watson made two changes from the side walloped 5-0 at Halifax a week ago, with Andrew Todd and Grogan replacing Farrell and Josh O’Keefe.
The difference in confidence levels at the start of the match could not have been more obvious, with Telford seeking their first win of the season against a United side enjoying a six-game victorious streak, but Todd sought to defy the odds with an early shot well saved by Martin Rice.
The home side continued their determined opening with a decent strike sent narrowly wide by combative midfielder Godfrey Poku, who was linked with a move to TQ1 during the summer.
Telford’s next attack resulted in the first goal of the day and it was a simple tap-in for Grogan after Rice had blocked the initial shot with a parry that fell perfectly for the onrushing midfielder.
United had conceded for the first time in September and it was now a huge test of resolve against a team sensing a big shock, but it was the Bucks piling on the pressure, as a pull-back from Mike Phenix was perfect for Tony Gray, who blasted over with the goal gaping.
Gradually, the Gulls found some form and a half-cleared corner fell to Jordan Chapell and his fizzing effort back in the box took a big deflection before bouncing out for a corner via the cross bar.
Luke Young delivered a terrific ball and Angus MacDonald rose highest to equalise with a towering header, as United once again showed their constant menace from set-piece situations. A good goal and well done to the young centre-back for being more determined than anyone else to get his head on the ball.
Both sides then took a step back after such a frantic start to the game but when the tempo did return, Telford were forcing United to repel a number of high balls into the Yellow penalty area.
The Gulls came back with another corner from Young and Telford simply could not handle the set-pieces from United. The delivery was excellent again and fell nicely for Bowman to lash past a stranded Jonathan Hedge after the goalkeeper had faced a hefty challenge from Duane Ofori-Acheampong.
The Telford custodian still should have done better with the initial cross but United’s physical presence was proving too much for a home team that had become worryingly accustomed to losing games.
The Bucks resorted to sniping at referee Simon Bennett after a robust challenge from Yellow midfielder Courtney Richards but tensions were understandably high for a side beginning to lose touch at the bottom of the table.
United could have put the game to bed when a header back across goal from Downes found Bowman, who clipped the bar with his instinctive effort, and Telford took huge advantage of the reprieve.
Rod McDonald was the main beneficiary, heading past Rice after the Gulls had failed to clear a corner and poor defending from set-pieces was clearly the over-riding theme in a lively first 45 minutes.
The second period began with some gentle sparring between the two teams and Telford seemed happy to contain in the early stages of a game that was so vital to their confidence and belief in the weeks ahead.
The afternoon then turned on its head when Ajala was shown a second yellow card after a seemingly innocuous challenge and United now faced a massive challenge at the New Bucks Head.
Hargreaves quickly made a change, removing Chapell for Wakefield in a move that compacted the Yellow midfield into a three-man unit, leaving Bowman and Ofori-Acheampong to continue their physical battle with the home defence.
Goalmouth action had completely dried up until Telford snatched the lead with another defensive calamity for the Gulls. The header from Akrigg looped miles in the air and Rice lost his bearings as the ball dropped agonisingly into the net.
Ofori-Acheampong was immediately withdrawn for Courtney Cameron in United’s desperate bid to get something from a turbulent afternoon, while Telford removed Todd for Charlie Barnett.
The Gulls then got back into the game with another equaliser and once again it came from a corner. Young whipped the ball into the near-post and Wakefield was in the right place to force home his first goal for United, and a vital contribution in a topsy-turvy afternoon.
Farrell replaced Gray in the next Telford change and the new man was soon powering into the box. Downes halted his progress but the ball bounced up for Sean Clancy to attempt an acrobatic volley that flew narrowly wide.
Ten minutes left on the clock and United now had the conundrum of whether to settle for a point or go for the win, but the more pressing activity was again from the home bench, with Grogan hobbling off to be replaced by Sean Cooke.
Moments later, Telford were back in front and it was again down to sloppy defending from a set-piece. A needless foul conceded by Tom Cruise allowed Clancy to whip over a free-kick that was turned onto the post and Farrell could not miss when the rebound dropped to him a couple of yards from goal.
United had to throw men forward and a sizzling strike by Cameron was expertly turned wide by Hedge and, for once, the home team were able to clear the corner.
The Gulls worked desperately to manufacture one last chance but a wild lunge from Downes earned the Australian a straight red card in the closing seconds. A disastrous afternoon ended with zero points and two men sent off.
The run is over and United have to look at their gloomy disciplinary record before Tuesday’s game at Forest Green Rovers.
Telford (3-5-2): 1 Jonathan Hedge; 16 Rod McDonald, 5 Steve Akrigg (capt), 4 Neill Byrne; 6 Mike Grogan (12 Sean Cooke 81), 7 Mike Phenix, 23 Ryan Higgins, 21 Andrew Todd (8 Charlie Barnett 69), 20 Godfrey Poku; 11 Sean Clancy, 10 Tony Gray (9 Adam Farrell 74). Substitutes (not used): 13 Andy Pryce (GK), 17 Kristian Platt.
Booked: Poku 54
United (4-4-2): 1 Martin Rice; 2 Dale Tonge, 21 Angus MacDonald, 4 Aaron Downes, 3 Thomas Cruise; 12 Jordan Chapell (22 Josh Wakefield 61), 8 Luke Young (capt), 16 Courtney Richards, 10 Toby Ajala; 9 Ryan Bowman, 24 Duane Ofori-Acheampong (11 Courtney Cameron 66). Substitutes (not used): 5 Krystian Pearce, 14 Ashley Yeoman, 23 Jordan Seabright (GK).
Booked: Tonge 13, Ajala 19
Sent-off: Ajala 57, Downes 90
Referee: Simon Bennett