The Roar
The Roar


'Held our own': Arsenal pip A-League Women All Stars as Matildas teammates battle it out in front of bumper Melbourne crowd

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24th May, 2024

Matildas winger Cortnee Vine believes the A-League Women All Stars’ 1-0 defeat to Arsenal showed local players can hold their own against the world’s best.

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

“It was great. Obviously Arsenal’s a quality side, I think we saw that,” said Vine, who went toe-to-toe with Ireland captain Katie McCabe. 

“They’re a world-class team, world-class players. They’re obviously very hard to verse. 

“But I thought we held our own pretty well. Defensively, we looked good and we had some counter-attacking moments. I had a lot of fun out there.”

Goalkeeper Lydia Williams added: “The WSL is considered probably the best league in the world and I think we held our own with that.”

Foord noted the All Stars had given Arsenal headaches in midfield, while Catley said: “Having never played together before, I thought they were great.”


Cooney-Cross sent some nerves through Marvel Stadium when she went down in the 72nd minute holding her right calf, seemingly with cramp, 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 – and was later jokingly called “dramatic” by Catley, while Foord insisted she was fine.

Cooney-Cross is among the Matildas taking part in two friendlies 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, McCabe and Russo among their starters.

All Stars counterpart Joe Montemurro, the former Arsenal women’s boss, opted for experience, with seven capped Matildas among his starting XI, including Cortnee Vine, Michelle Heyman and Tameka Yallop.


It took a 17-year-old to unlock a hard-working defence 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.

“It was nice kind of ending, like it was all wrapped up in a nice little bow,” she said. 

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

“Well, let’s put it all in perspective,” Montemurro said. 


“Five training sessions, players that have never played together. Players that haven’t played for probably four or five weeks, some of them already coming back from holiday. 

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“We’ll take the adventure.”