Hartlepool may be one of the unfashionable names but any side in any league which has won seven out of eight has its confidence right up so this was always a real tricky test for the Millers.
It was certainly that and plenty more and the Millers, palpably second best, were thanking their lucky stars to have got through to the Area semi-final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
They have outplayed teams this season but not got the win. Here, after the opening 15 minutes, they were outplayed themselves for all but a brief spell and got through with a lucky, deflected winner before surviving four scares in stoppage time.
Rotherham - with five changes - took a ninth minute lead with Tom Eaves getting his first for the club, a near post header on the run from Michael Tidser’s right-side corner.
Lee Frecklington cleared off the line from an Andy Monkhouse header from a corner before Rob Milsom stole in unmarked but couldn’t keep his header down after Eaves did well.
Then the home side, oozing confidence and with quicky, nippy attacking players, put the Millers through a torrid spell.
Adam Collin denied Luke James who was clear; Jack Baldwin fired over before the Pool equaliser on 24 minutes. Ex-Miller Monkhouse again moved inside into space onto a reverse pass from James before finishing calmly.
An error by Pablo Mills let in Mickey Duckworth but he delayed and Richard Brindley blocked him.
Collin again rescued Rotherham diverting wide from the lively James who was got clear.
The Millers were grateful to be level and looking forward to half-time when they got lucky. Frecklington moved forward, shot from around 25 yards and it deflected off Agard to wrongfoot the keeper - his ninth of the season.
Hartlepool set about chasing an equaliser with vigour and they pinned the Millers back for although creating the chances they did in the first half.
Rotherham were forced to dig in, it became a battle for survival and they put on Pringle, Revell and Nardiello and went 4-5-1 to stem the tide somewhat in the final 20 minutes.
They did so without great alarm until an amazing five minutes of stoppage time when somehow Rotherham’s goal remained intact on four occasions in that frantic finale.
Collin superbly denied Neil Austin and from the corner, Sam Collins’ header hit the bar.
When Sweeney slashed a chance over that seemed it but right at the end, Collins close range effort from a corner was blocked right on the line by Collin.
The Millers had managed to dig in and survive - and they haven’t been second best like this all season. It was their Peterborough defeat in reverse!
Millers boss Steve Evans said: “We’ve played well and battered teams this season and not won, well the boot was on the other foot. We’ve not played well but shown togetherness.”
HARTLEPOOL: Flinders; Duckworth, Baldwin, Collins, Austin; Franks (Richards 86), Walton, Dolan (Sweeney 80), Monkhouse, Poole (Walker 85), James.
ROTHERHAM : : Collin; Brindley, Mills, Morgan, Skarz (Pringle 60); Agard, Frecklington, Tidser, Milsom; Eaves (Revell 68), Tubbs (Nardiello 66). Unused: Shearer, Davis.
Bookings: Tidser Skarz, Frecklington, Agard, Nardiello, Brindley (for Rotherham); Austin. (Pool).
referee: Darren Drysdale (Lincs)