AFTER so long playing the underdog, Wanderers must now find their bite in a run of games where the onus will be on them to find a result.

From the first ball kicked this season the odds have been stacked against Bolton – be it the administration-hit side that started at Wycombe 12 points behind the rest, the baby-faced one that followed it against Coventry or Tranmere, or the team of relative strangers beaten soundly at Rotherham United.

Keith Hill has made steady progress over the course of September and October, ticking off important landmarks – a first clean sheet against Oxford, a first victory against Bristol Rovers, a first home win in the league at the expense of Fleetwood.

Now, as they prepare to welcome League Two Plymouth to the University of Bolton Stadium in the FA Cup first round, this could be a month which unfolds favourably, bringing a different kind of pressure for Hill’s side.

Expectation among the supporters has stayed relatively low key, real disappointment flaring only briefly when Wanderers were beaten 3-1 at home by Rochdale.

Inside the camp, the home draw against Sunderland was seen as a pivotal result. There was a feeling among management and players that results could improve quickly from that point onward but a run of key injuries, most notably to midfielder Liam Bridcutt and centre-back Jake Wright, forced everyone to check their bravado for the time being.

Saturday’s result against Fleetwood was the first time Wanderers have strung three victories on the spin in any competition for two-and-a-half years. It was also the first time in 14 months they had scored twice in the first half.

Hill’s side has spent a total of 75 minutes two goals ahead of their opponents in the last three games. An unremarkable stat in isolation but consider that they went the whole of the 2018/19 campaign spending just 56 minutes leading by two goals or more; the season previous (2017/18) they managed just 90.

Momentum is being built at the same time as an appetising run of games is coming into sight.

Wanderers play in the cup then host MK Dons, a club which has just sacked manager Paul Tisdale following a run of eight defeats and a draw in their last nine league outings.

A first-ever league meeting with Accrington follows – and though there will be no red carpet rolled out by John Coleman’s side, they too have struggled to find any consistency in League One this season, winning just three times.

The month concludes with a home meeting with AFC Wimbledon, currently sat on 13 points and just above the relegation zone.

Glyn Hodges has masterminded an upturn in form since taking on the job from Wally Downes but their solitary away win came at Southend, who have been League One’s whipping boys.

The lingering prospect of EFL punishment means that any points registered are logged in pencil, and could conceivably be erased, but Hill’s target of getting into positive equity is now tantalisingly within reach.

Exactly when the club will hear of a potential punishment remains a closely-guarded secret.

An independent panel will decide Wanderers’ fate, the identity of which is also a great unknown. What has come to light is the panel was meant to meet this Thursday but a clash with a pre-existing EFL board meeting meant that another date had to be sought, as both parties need to be present.

The finality a judgement will bring cannot come soon enough for Bolton or their supporters, who are desperate to move on.

Likewise, tomorrow should see a payment made to the club’s football creditors who are no longer contracted, drawing a line through another sad entry in the history books.

Football Ventures agreed a date on November 6 to pay the outstanding debts and will be funding the payment themselves, rather than through a PFA loan, which had originally been planned.