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Journey from non-league to beating Leeds is a dream – Crawley’s Ashley Nadesan

Crawley Town v Leeds United – Emirates FA Cup – Third Round – People’s Pension Stadium
(Image credit: Adam Davy)

Crawley striker Ashley Nadesan says rising from non-league to help dump Premier League Leeds out of the FA Cup is a dream come true.

Nadesan claimed the crucial second goal as the rampant League Two hosts secured a stunning 3-0 third-round upset against the 1972 winners.

The 26-year-old was playing for Surrey club Horley Town in the ninth tier of English football until five years ago and enjoyed a fairytale afternoon on Sunday.

“Everybody loves the league but this is the one cup that, me personally, I love it,” he said.

“Coming from non-league and now playing against Leeds United and scoring is like a dream for me.

“Out there, you wouldn’t have known that they were the Prem team and we were the League Two team.

“That performance was for all of the fans at home, who couldn’t be here, and hopefully they are proud.

“We are just buzzing for the next round.”

Crawley, who sit sixth in the fourth tier under manager John Yems, will discover their fourth round and potential fifth round opponents during Monday evening’s draw.

Nadesan arrived at Broadfield Stadium in 2019 having taken his first steps in the professional game with Fleetwood and Carlisle.

He bobbled a low shot past Leeds’ former Real Madrid goalkeeper Kiko Casilla just three minutes after Nick Tsaroulla’s first senior goal opened the scoring early in the second half, before Jordan Tunnicliffe lashed home to end any hopes of a fightback.

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa, who made seven changes for the tie but fielded a strong line-up, also made three half-time substitutions.

Nadesan felt the Argentinian coach’s tinkering helped the Red Devils take control of the contest

“I thought we played very well, especially the second half, we turned it up a little bit,” he said.

“Our game plan was to stay in the game as long as we can. They changed stuff in the second half, which I think favoured us.

“As soon as we got the first, we got the second rapid and when we got the third I felt like we were in control, even though they’ve got the talent they’ve got on the pitch.

“We’ll let that sink in for a few days but it’s a quick turnaround and we’re back to the league again.”

Leeds’ latest FA Cup embarrassment adds to recent cup upsets at the hands of Histon, Newport, Sutton and Rochdale.

Ezgjan Alioski congratulated Crawley for producing “the game of their life” and was at a loss to explain the resounding defeat.

“I can’t find my words now because we are really disappointed. It’s not this that we wanted,” he told the Leeds website.

“I am really sad, because we took the game really seriously.

“Crawley played the game of their life, congratulations to them, to beat us 3-0 I can’t believe it, but it has happened.

“Every player needs to know what this means.”