Manager Paul Warne was satisfied but not overjoyed as Championship side Rotherham eased into the Carabao Cup second round with a 2-1 win at League One Port Vale.
The Millers were coasting as Oliver Rathbone and Chiedozie Ogbene put the visitors 2-0 up at half-time.
Keeper Aaron Stone denied striker George Kelly a third on the hour and that save almost proved pivotal.
Mal Benning, one of five substitutes introduced with 20 minutes left, scored after 81 minutes.
But United, who lost Conor Washington and Peter Kioso to first-half injuries, held on.
“It was not a classic,” said Warne. “We are not going to wake up tomorrow and remember the game forever.
“But we got through. I said to the lads before the game there are loads of Championship sides who have lost to lower league opposition.
“They are tricky games and it is early in the season. There were parts of our game I liked, there were parts I wasn’t keen on.
“But we got through and as a cup game that’s what it is all about.
“I am not being critical, but we want more; we expect more.
“If you give the ball away as loosely as we did a few times towards the end of the game, if that’s against a Watford you are in deep trouble. So, we need more.”
Vale boss Darrell Clarke said: “The performance was not great. I just thought the last 15-20 minutes was a lot better.
“But we were miles away from what I would class as a good performance. I feel pretty confident when we get it right and we get the standards and fitness levels we need to get, we will be a decent team.”
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