It wasn’t quite the Capital One Cup event of last year, when Rotherham United beat derby rivals Sheffield Wednesday in front of a rocking full house at New York Stadium.
This first-round clash was a more muted affair, although for one of the few times it will happen this season the Millers were the big fish of the occasion.
In a Championship campaign which pits Rotherham against the likes of Fulham, Leeds and Derby, here they were up against League One Fleetwood Town, the Cod Army. There were very few Cod fans in attendance, just 143, some in yellow shirts, like a little shoal of goldfish in a very large bowl. To give them credit, they made plenty of noise.
On the pitch Rotherham were the team to shout about, even though the visitors hung on to take the tie to extra time.
Matt Derbyshire settled matters with an expertly-taken penalty in the 108th minute after he’d been hauled down by Nathan Pond.
The Millers were looking to avenge a cup defeat against Fleetwood, who had knocked them out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy last December, and dominated the first half.
In the first 20 minutes the most dangerous thing Scott Loach had to deal with was an awkward back pass, while the Millers drove forward at every opportunity.
Chelsea loan ace John Swift, in for his first competitive start in a roving role on the right of midfield, had three shots, two deflected and one wide, and was behind much of Rotherham’s best work, along with midfield man Paul Green who seemed to be everywhere, picking up pieces and keeping his side on the move.
There were also shooting chances for Jordan Bowery, Ryan Hall, Michael Tidser and Craig Morgan as all the Millers lacked was the finishing touch.
Fleetwood had two former Millers in their line-up in Gareth Evans and substitute Ryan Cresswell, who was given a warm reception, and Evans was behind Fleetwood’s only first-half chance of note, firing over in the 29th minute.
The second half continued in the same vein, with the Millers pressing and just not quite able to find a way through. Sub Alex Revell had a great chance to book the club’s passage into the second round but screwed his 86th-minute effort agonisingly wide and then Green hit the post just seconds later.
Before then, Loach had produced quality saves to deny Matty Blair and Evans in rare Fleetwood attacks. For the Millers, Skarz had an effort beaten away, Swift jinked his way into the area only for his fierce shot to be blocked, Tidser and Hall shot over and Agard twice missed the target.
Finally up stepped Derbyshire, and revenge was a dish best served cold. Cod. Well beaten, not quite battered.
Meanwhile, the night didn’t begin well for Fleetwood chairman Andy Pilley. The Cod Army chief ended up at Sheffield’s Don Valley Stadium instead of New York.
Pilley posted on Twitter: “Disaster. We have just arrived at the Don Valley. Damn sat nav has took us to old ground.”
Rotherham united: Loach, Broadfoot, Wood, Morgan, Skarz, Swift (Derbyshire 66), Green, Tidser, Hall (Pringle 90), Bowery (Revell 66), Agard. Subs not used: Collin, Brindley, Newton, Sadler.
Fleetwood Town: Maxwell, McLaughlin, Murdoch, Pond, Evans, Morris, Hogan (Ball 112), Blair (Campbell 66), Sarcevic, Proctor, Jordan. Subs not used: Davies, Schumacher, Cresswell, Hughes, Crainey.
Goal: Derbyshire, pen, 108.
Referee: Nigel Miller (County Durham).