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A really big challenge - Leanne
 Women's Football News 7 Dec 2007
A really big challenge - Leanne - 7 Dec 2007 - Women's Football NewsCurzon Ashton face their biggest test of the season to date when they take on Preston North End in the Third Round of the F.A.Women's Cup this Sunday.
The Lancashire side have won every match they have played so far in this campaign and they will test themselves against Premier League opposition in their tie, which has been delayed following its postponement last week. The winners will be at home to Newcastle United in the Fourth Round.
17-year-old Leanne Skarratt is Curzon's leading goalscorer, with 21 goals to her name, and she told Women's Soccer Scene that her team is ready to face Preston. "We're looking forward to it," says Leanne. "We have improved as a team this season and it will be a good test to see how far we have come.
"Preston are really strong defensively and good at keeping possession, so it is going to be a tough game. They are doing well in the league and beat Lincoln recently, so it will be a really big challenge for us."
Curzon were relegated from the Northern Division at the end of last season but are well on the way towards returning at the first attempt as they have dominated the Northern Combination from the start. "We have got a better team spirit," adds Leanne, "the winning habit has benefitted everybody at the club. We signed three or four new players during the summer and strengthened the squad in all areas.
"We knew we wanted to go straight back up because it is a good club, with good players and facilities - probably one of the best grounds in the country for women's football. A new Chairman has come in, bringing in fresh ideas and helped revitalise things.
"In our last match, we beat Middlesbrough who knocked Sheffield Wednesday out of the Cup last week. Wednesday are in mid-table in the Premier League so it's an indication that we are going in the right direction."
Curzon have raced clear at the top of the league but Leanne insists that they are trying to keep up the pace. "The last time we won the Northern Combination, we won our opening 17 games of the season, so we're looking to go all the way this time," she says. "Last season, we had a young squad and that didn't help us but we have adapted well to the league.
"The standard is quite good, although the teams are not technically as good as the league above, but they are physically strong and we have had to compete hard. In most games, we have dominated but we needed to come from behind to beat Middlesbrough and Caernarfon so it hasn't been easy.
"Everyone has played really well for us, in particular Nicky McLeod on the right wing and our captain Emma Gaynon in midfield. We now have a good mixture of youth and experience in the squad and if we keep improving and progressing, I think we can go on to win the league and be up there with the top teams next season."

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