KEITH Hill took stock of the task ahead as Wanderers crashed to a 6-1 defeat at Rotherham United in his first league game in charge.

The new Bolton boss watched new loan signing Thibauld Verlinden score a fine opening goal in the fourth minute after a clever short corner routine.

To their credit, the Millers recovered quickly and levelled 10 minutes later through Ben Wiles.

Carlton Morris and Freddie Ladapo then scored before the break to give Paul Warne’s men a 3-1 lead – but Verlinden also went close again for Wanderers with Daniel Iversen denying him a second.

Rotherham drove home their advantage in the second half as both Morris and Ladapo grabbed another goal apiece and the superb Rangers loanee Gavin Hastie added a sixth.

Whilst admitting his rapidly assembled squad had plenty of scope for improvement, Hill refused to be downbeat.

“It’s about learning,” he said after the final whistle. “It was an unbelievable experience preparing for this game but we have witnessed what League One is all about there.

“We have come up against a fitness machine in Rotherham and tested ourselves physically and mentally.

“It’s a learning curve for the players and for myself as a coach but it’s just the start of the journey.

“The football side will improve. This is just the first game.”

A travelling band of 2,600 fans packed out the away end at the New York Stadium and despite the heavy loss, many stayed behind to cheer the players after the final whistle.

Hill herded his players to acknowledge their support and is adamant there will be better times and results to celebrate down the line.

“Flicker once said ‘you never remember the start of a great film’ and this is going to be a great film. We’re just setting it up,” he said.

“We need the players to be in a place where they can’t get to at the moment and it hurts but it’s only a small embarrassment getting beaten in a game. We haven’t been defeated.

“It was magnificent that the fans stayed. I’m not just talking words, here, I really do mean them.

“We have to improve in every department with the players we have got.

“For me it’s a win today because we realise what we need to do. We realise that we have got players from a lot of different clubs and tried to get them up to speed but we haven’t matched the demands of League One today, but we will do.

“It will take time but this is just a step on a journey. One thing I do know is that Bolton Wanderers will be great again.”