Arsenal edge A-League Women in friendly match

Arsenal edge A-League Women in friendly match

The A-League Women All Stars have battled hard against Arsenal and their Matildas Steph Catley, Caitlin Foord and Kyra Cooney-Cross but failed to a 1-0 loss in their friendly.

Arsenal were the dominant team from the opening minutes but were unable to unlock a stubborn All Stars defense until England striker Alessia Russo agreed home in the 39th minute in front of 42,120 fans.

Cooney-Cross felt some nerves through Marvel Stadium when she went down in the 72nd minute holding her right calf, apparently with cramps, after a clip from Melbourne City and All Stars forward Rhianna Pollicina.

The Matildas gun was jovial on the ground, refused to come off on a stretcher and was in good spirits as she left the pitch.

Cooney-Cross is among the Matildas taking part in two friends against China on May 31 and June 3.

Arsenal coach Jonas Eidevall fielded a strong starting line-up, with Foord, Cooney-Cross, Catley, captain Kim Little, Ireland skipper Katie McCabe and Russo among their starters.

All Stars counterpart Joe Montemurro opted for experience, with seven capped Matildas among his starting XI, including Cortnee Vine, Michelle Heyman and Tameka Yallop.

But Arsenal’s quality shot through from the opening minutes as the Gunners dominated possession and controlled the midfield, while Foord had his various markers on skates.

But it took a 17-year-old to unlock a hard-working defense marshalled by New Zealand international Rebekah Stott and Melbourne Victory skipper Kayla Morrison.

Teenager Vivienne Lia dipped a wonderful ball into the box and Russo, who had made a terrific ghosting run between Rebekah Stott and Alana Cerne made no mistake, leaping high to nod the ball home.

Retiring Matildas great and former Arsenal goalkeeper Williams was substituted for Jada Whyman just before half-time, receiving a rousing ovation from the crowd and plenty of love from players on both sides.

The All Stars were able to create several half-chances but without reward.

Foord forced a save from Jada Whyman in the 79th minute and made way four minutes later, to a raucous reception from the home fans.

The All Stars could have equalized at the death when Mackenzie Hawkesby slipped through Hannah Wilkinson, but the New Zealand international was denied by an excellent save from Naomi WIlliams.