Sheffield Wed 2 Charlton Athletic 4: Rommedahl double is a bridge too far

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The Independent Football

Dennis Rommedahl played only half of this pulsating Cup tie, but he did enough in the first 45 minutes to see the Addicks into the fourth round. Rommedahl's two well-taken goals, doubling his tally for the season, were the difference between the two sides when he limped off at half-time.

Although Wednesday battled hard for the rest of the game, with their left-back, Paul Heckingbottom, becoming another unlikely double goalscorer, they could not quite bridge the gap the Danish winger had created, and Darren Bent's goal four minutes from time confirmed Charlton's progress.

Rommedahl's first was a gem from a player who has not been prolific in this country. Latching on to Jonathan Spector's long clearance, he shimmied past three Wednesday defenders before showing commendable composure to side-foot it past the advancing David Lucas.

"He's got that ability, and the last three games he's shown it to us," said his manager, Alan Curbishley. "He's played ever so well and that's what we need from him. If he'd stayed on the pitch, I think he would have done a bit more damage."

Wednesday were a team of contrasts in this tie. Justifiably criticised by their manager, Paul Sturrock, for their defensive frailties afterwards, they always carried an attacking threat that hinted at the possibility of victory, especially when they could get the ball into the air.

Their equaliser was a typical case in point. Chris Brunt's corner was a vicious inswinger and Graham Coughlan won it beyond the far post to send the ball back across goal for Heckingbottom to claim his first with a close-range header.

Wednesday could have been ahead if Radostin Kishishev had not narrowly missed his own goal with a glancing header from another Brunt cross. Instead, it was the Premiership side who regained the lead with another well-constructed goal, Matt Holland striding on to a return pass from Brian Hughes and finding the angle to stroke it past Lucas, in goal because Manchester City would not let the on-loan Nicky Weaver play.

A couple of efforts from Marcus Tudgay, now a perma-nent signing from Derby County, suggested that the Sheffield challenge was by no means over. But, two minutes before half-time, their defence froze when Hughes won the ball and Bent unselfishly rolled it square for Rommedahl to hit it into the roof of the net for his second goal.

Charlton did not carry the same threat without Rommedahl after the interval and Wednesday put them under pressure when they claimed a second just before the hour.

Again, it was Charlton's failure to deal with a set-piece that was responsible, Richard Wood getting the ball back into the middle for Heckingbottom to volley home gleefully for his second. As with their first goal, there was now a real Cup-tie feel about proceedings, although Charlton should have wrapped it up when Bent shot against Thomas Myhre's legs after 67 minutes.

There was no mistake from him four minutes from time, however, when Rommedahl's replacement, Darren Ambrose, found him with a long through- ball and this time Bent took it past the goalkeeper to confirm Charlton's progress.