For the second time in four days, Rotherham made a cup exit at the hands of League Two opposition. But this one was their genuine Wembley chance so the disappointment was even greater than Saturday’s defeat against Rochdale, writes Les Payne.
The Millers were certainly under no illusion about this tie bearing in mind Fleetwood’s record in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy this season - they’d ko-ed three other League One sides in Tranmere, Crewe and Carlisle to get to this semi-final.
Rotherham’s three loan players were back, Tavernier at left-back, Dicko alongside Revell with Vuckic in a role behind those two in a new look 4-3-1-2.
An early 25-yarder from Revell, which got a deflection, had Davies saving at full stretch, a prelude to a promising start by the Millers.
Dicko turned a Pringle free-kick just wide and then a vitally important intervention by Pond prevented Revell going clear.
However, Fleetwood - with their ability to break forward quickly - had a real gift goal on 19 minutes.
A centre was blocked and rebounded towards Hughes. He struck a straightforward shot and keeper Collin, who has done so well since getting his chance, let the shot slip through his fingers and through his legs - his embarrassing moment right in front of the Rotherham following at that.
It set a pattern, with the Cod Army funnelling back, happy to let Rotherham try and find a way through, and then getting men forward quickly when attacking opportunities arose.
Rotherham were finding it difficult to get through, although Dicko, receiving from Tavernier, had a snap-shot sharply saved by Davies.
Just before half-time, Morgan came steaming in for Pringle’s inswinging corner, met it squarely and saw the header flash inches over.
Rotherham’s second-half push started straightaway with Revell hitting the post with a great effort on the turn and Agard striking a chance into the side-netting.
On 55 minutes, from a Vuckic prompt, Revell’s shot diverted off Roberts. Davies prevented an own goal with a super save but the loose ball was knocked home by Dicko.
It sparked a furious response from Fleetwood and a frantic second half.
Schumacher struck a free-kick just wide before Collin had to deny Sarcevic.
Then, with 20 minutes left, Fleetwood hit the front and how.
Pringle got back to intervene and struck his clearance down the line, but it fell to McLaughlin. The young right-back lined up a 30-yarder and it picked up speed to surprise Collin and leave him groping.
In the next minute came the chance of an equaliser when a loose ball dropped towards Agard but he drilled a clear chance wide.
Rotherham had no choice but to pile men forward, but Fleetwood resisted with everything they had and it all became frantic and packed in the home area.
In a dramatic finale, Davies made an absolutely fantastic save in the 90th minute to tip over Frecklington’s thunderbolt and, from the corner, the keeper brilliantly denied Tavernier.
The Millers had missed out and it hurt!
Goals: Hughes (19), McLaughlin (70) for Fleetwood; Dicko (55) for Rotherham.
Fleetwood: Davies 8; McLaughlin 7, Roberts 8, Pond 8, Taylor 6; Blair 6 (Brown 78) , Schumacher 7, Hughes 6, Evans 5 (Cresswell 88); Sarcevic 6; Tyson 5 (Carr 75). Subs: Murdoch, Lucas.
Rotherham: Collin 5; Bradley 6 (Brindley h-t ,6), Morgan 7, Arnason 7, Tavernier 6; Agard 5, Frecklington 6, Pringle 5; Vuckic 5 (Davis 79); Dicko 6 Revell 6. Subs: Shearer, Tubbs, Rowe.