Date: 7th January 2006 at 7:07pm
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Wendesday were knocked out of the FA Cup despite a spirited performance against Premiership side Charlton Athletic at Hillsborough.

The Owls went down 4-2 to the Addicks, although the scoreline did flatter the visitors and Wednesday fans left with their heads held high.

Finishing was the difference on a cold afternoon at Hillsborough, as Dennis Rommedahl put Charlton in front before Paul Heckingbottom drew the Owls level. A Matt Holland strike and a dubious second for Danish-international Rommedahl put the visitors 3-1 up at the break. Heckingbottom got his second of the afternoon on the hour mark, but it wasn’t to be Wednesday’s day as Darren Bent secured Charlton’s progression to the next round with a fine strike minutes from time.

Owls boss Paul Sturrock made four changes to the side that beat Crewe 3-0 on Monday. Manchester City refused to let on-loan ‘keeper Nicky Weaver play so David Lucas returned to action sooner than predicted. New signing Deon Burton was cup-tied and so Barry Corr partnered Marcus Tudgay in attack. John Hills suspension meant a return to the starting eleven for Chris Brunt, while Paul Heckingbottom was a surprise inclusion after Peter Gilbert was rested after picking up a knock mid-week.

Danny Murphy wasn’t included in the Charlton squad after suffering a hamstring strain. Luke Young was also rested after playing in all the Addicks league matches this season. Darren Bent, Dennis Rommedahl, and Matt Holland were just a few Premiership faces that would be facing the rejuvinated Owls team.

It was Alan Curbishley’s men who came out of the traps the quickest, after ‘Curbs’ hinted that he wanted to have a bash at winning the prestigious competition. Rommedahl nearly put them in front after a low cross from Bryan Hughes, but Heckingbottom was on hand to block the attempted shot. Darren Bent and Hughes also saw half-chances fail to trouble Lucas in the Wednesday goal.

It wasn’t long before the Londoners were in front though, and it was Danish international Rommedahl who put them on their way on 13 minutes. A poor clearance fell to the feet of Rommedahl, who came inside and slotted his shot past Lucas.

The lead didn’t last for long though. Burton O’Brien’s attempt at goal was deflected wide for a corner. The inswinging corner was won at the back post by Graham Coughlan, before Paul Heckingbottom marked his return to the team with the equaliser.

Wednesday nearly even took the lead against their Premiership opponents when Radostin Kishishev nearly deflected a Chris Brunt ball passed Thomas Myhre in the Addicks goal.

Wednesday looked on top, but Charlton still looked the more dangerous side when going forward, and they re-gained the lead through a fine Matt Holland strike just before the half hour mark. Bryan Hughes put captain Holland through on goal who made it 2-1 with an excellent finish.

Wednesday were still giving as much as they were getting though, and new-boy Tudgay had two half chances to equalise once again for the Owls. The first chance came when he was given space at the edge of the box for him to turn and hit a decent effort wide of Myhre’s goal. The second chance he made himself but the overhead kick drifted tamely wide of goal.

Sturrock would have taken 2-1 going in to the break to rejuvenise his team, but the task was made even harder just before the end of the first half when Rommedahl was unmarked on the right hand side to slot home Charlton’s third despite cries from Wednesday fans and players for a foul inside the Wednesday box. Despite the boos and jeers the goal was given. Charlton had never lost this season when Rommedahl had scored – it wasn’t looking good for Wednesday.

At this point most people would have thought the game was done and dusted, but Wednesday came out with their heads held high and still fighting and scrapping for every ball in the middle of the park. By this stage Rommedahl had made way for Darren Ambrose after suffering a knock in a challenge with Frank Simek in the first half.

The Owls created some chances of their own with Glenn Whelen forcing a fine save form Myhre, and Burton O’Brien shooting just wide as the hosts were taking the game to their Premiership opponents.

The reward for the Owls determination came on the hour mark when Paul Heckingbottom scored his second of the game. The impressive Richie Partridge crossed for Richard Wood to head back accross goal, and just like the first goal Hecks was on time to get his second of the game, this time with his foot.

The fans sensed that something could be gained from the match, but the warning signs were still present when Bent forced a great save from Lucas after pouncing on a through ball.

Wednesday were still surging forward though, and Curbishley was forced to change his hand in a bid to shut up shop. Kevin Lisbie was brought on to replace Bryan Hughes while Chris Perry was brought on in place of Chris Powell to add extra height to the Addicks defence.

Richie Partridge had another impressive game for the Owls but was substituted on 76 rather surprisingly for Lee Bullen, who played on the left side of midfield. The only thinking I can see behind the change is for Bullen’s height on set-pieces, but the change brought very little for the Owls, and if anything probably relieved the Charlton defence.

With the Owls pushing forward for the equaliser there were always going to be gaps at the back, and it was Darren Bent who exploited it and made the game safe for the visitors with minutes left on the clock. He rounded Lucas and slotted the ball home to the delight of the travelling red army.

Wednesday put in a performance to be proud of but the finishing was the difference in this FA Cup third round tie. Wednesday will be hoping to get back to winning ways when they face Leicester at Hillsborough next week, and will be pleased to welcome back numerous players.

Player Ratings

Lucas 7
Couldn’t do much about the Premiership-class finishing, but did make a good save from Darren Bent to keep the Owls in itr early in the second half.

Simek 7
A strong performance by the fans favourite, maybe too strong for Dennis Rommedalh who ws withdrawn at half time after being involved in a tough tackle from the American.

Heckingbottom 8
Hecks put in one if his finest performances for the Owls just as he’s been told he can leave. Scored both Owls goals.

Coughlan 7
Not one of his better games for the club, although the defence as a whole had quite a poor game. Assisted Heckingbottom’s first goal.

Wood 7
Found it tough against the pace of Bent and Bartlett but did a decent job. Assisted Heckingbottom’s second goal.

Whelen 5
Another poor performances from the Irish under-21 international. Really needs to work on his passing and is often too slow tracking back/forwards.

O’Brien 6
Had a fairly quite game although did have a couple of bursts in to the Charlton box, shooting wide on one occassion.

Partridge 8
Man of the match as far as the Owls were concerned. Didn’t hesistate to run at the defence and produced some fine crosses.

Brunt 6
Looked as if he didn’t really want to be there. Produced a few good crosses but needs to get his act together quickly.

Corr 6
Gave 100% as usual but doesn’t look like scoring. Held the ball up well but was caught offside on many occassions. Still needs to learn te trade.

Tudgay 7
A better performance than his debut despite not scoring. Had a much better first touch and linked well with Corr.

Bullen 5
Did very little on the left hand side of midfield.

Sub 2
Not Used

Alan Curbishley told the official CAFC site:
Not Used

Paul Sturrock told the official SWFC site:
”They had five clear-cut chances, scored four and three of them were created by our side and backward passes. The fourth goal epitomised it. We’re tippy-tappying in our left back area and with one long ball they put it in the back of our net.”

”The way that has brought us success is to make sure our strikers are our playmakers and get balls wide and crosses in the box. When we deviate from that and try to be this silky football team it causes us concern.”

Frank Simek told the official SWFC site:
”I thought we were always in the game. It is dissapointing defensively to give away four goals. The goals we gave away were a bit sloppy.”

”We have been looking solid in the back four recently so giving away four goals is dissapointing. If you’d have said we were going to score two goals before the game I’d have fancied our chances.”

Alan Curbishley told the official CAFC site:
‘Sheffield Wednesday have won two games on the trot so they were full of confidence. It was always going to be difficult day but I think we made it a bit difficult in the second half – and at 3-2 it could have gone either way.”

‘We were expecting what happened in the second half with lots of balls coming in the box and us having to deal with them. But we got through and that’s the main thing.’