The biggest contingent of Matildas stars ever to play in the England Women’s Super League kicked off their season with mixed results – and with the biggest name of them all, Sam Kerr, having to sit out on matchday one due to injury.
- Sam Kerr still recovering from World Cup calf injury
- A record 13 Australian players will play in the English WSL this season
- Steph Catley, Caitlin Foord and Kyra Cooney-Cross’ Arsenal lost to Liverpool on opening day
Kerr came to cheer on her Chelsea teammates at Stamford Bridge even though she was clearly not yet fit enough to be included in the champions’ squad to face Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on Sunday (Monday AEDT) following her World Cup injury.
Kerr’s fantastic goal in the semi-final against England just under six weeks ago had left Blues fans hoping she would fly early in the season, but she still wasn’t considered ready to lead the line after her calf problem.
The good news for Chelsea was that Kerr’s replacement, new American signing Mia Fishel, scored on her debut to ensure the Blues, who are aiming for a fifth successive title this season, got off to another successful start with a 2-1 victory.
Of the 13 Australian players now listed in England’s top flight, it was a dismal day for Arsenal’s top trio of Matildas – Steph Catley, Caitlin Foord and new signing Kyra Cooney-Cross.
Despite a record Women’s Super League crowd of 54,115 flocking to the Emirates Stadium to see them, the Gunners went down 1-0 to Liverpool, losing to Miri Taylor’s second-half goal.
Catley and Foord both played the full 90, but substitute Cooney-Cross was given only a brief cameo after being introduced in the 86th minute as Arsenal, already out of the Champions League, suffered a severe setback on launch day.
There was better news for some of the other standout Matildas at the World Cup with goalkeeping hero Mackenzie Arnold reprising his penalty-avoiding ways by palming away a kick from Manchester City’s England star, Chloe Kelly, for a corner.
But Arnold, who also made a fine save to deny another Lioness, Lauren Hemp, could not prevent Hemp and debutant Jill Roord from scoring after the break to give City, who featured Alanna Kennedy and also given a rare full 90 minutes to Mary Fowler. after their World Cup breakthrough, a 2-0 away victory.
Brighton, for whom Sydney FC newcomer Charlie Rule replaced, recorded a 2-1 victory at Everton, who also made a late appearance for their own Australian, Clare Wheeler, while Courtney Nevin featured in the victory Leicester 4-2 at Bristol City.