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Crewe Alexandra are seeking to build on their fine first season in the Premier League.
The Cheshire side finished in fourth place in the Northern Division and spent the whole campaign in the top half of the table after having won promotion from the Midland Combination. Goalkeeper Kelly Roberts won a lot of plaudits for her performances and she told Women's Soccer Scene that the whole squad is eagerly anticipating the season ahead. "We've got some new changes in management and players, so it will be a new challenge for us, especially after a fourth place finish, to keep at that level," she said.
"I think we did really well - it was our first step up to that level. We showed we could play with the big guns and I thought it was a good season for us."
"It's a lot faster and a lot more physical (in the Premier League)," added defender Gemma Edwards. "We have had to make a lot of changes to the squad and it's for the better really."
Is there anything in particular that needed to be learnt when playing at the higher level? "Possession, more than anything," replies Gemma. "If you lose the ball, you get punished, so you have to learn to keep it."
This season sees Terry Unitt take over as the new manager at Crewe and Kelly admits that the players are having to adapt to the changes. "We're just getting used to the new squad at the moment so we're all finding our feet," she says. "Once the season gets started, we'll notice what Terry does differently to our last manager."
Kelly is also confident that the team will not be affected by 'second season syndrome', in which clubs can find things tougher after a good first campaign. "There are going to be teams in the league that we don't know about," she says, "but we take each game as it comes and go out to win - it doesn't matter who it is, we just go out to play our best.
"The league is always a tight one and it makes you work harder as you know you can't drop points, because anybody takes points off everyone. If you want that top spot, you have got to put the performances in."
As for Crewe's hopes for the season ahead in the Northern Division, Gemma is in no doubt as to what she thinks would be a good campaign by saying: "The only option, I think, is winning it."
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