FROM the gnawing grumble of frustration post-penalty miss to the guttural roar of release when Daryl Murphy quickly atoned for his sins –those contrasting moments of emotion must be surely allowed to mean something by May.

The Sword of Damocles continues to hang above Wanderers’ head, the whole club still waiting to hear if their recent revival will be set back to zero by the powers that be.

The points gained from three straight wins in the league could conceivably be whipped away in a moment by the EFL’s disciplinary panel – and how harsh that would feel in a club almost unrecognisable from the one which committed those so-called indiscretions.

For us to still be discussing this situation in mid-November is an utter travesty. Influential figures around the division are voicing their concern about knock-on effects from the EFL’s decision to allow Wanderers to stumble into the season in administration, and it feels increasingly as if an example will be made out of somebody. As it stands, Bolton are prime candidates, almost as if their resurgence needs dampening down somehow to appease the members.

Whatever this week’s verdict, Bolton’s pulse is strong. And as League One is finding out, the Whites will not be going anywhere without a fight.

To have walked away with three points after a such a bitty, ugly 90 minutes of football against MK Dons feels satisfying, especially when you look at the league table and see Bolton back in positive equity.

The job is nowhere near complete but how effectively Wanderers operate from here on in might hinge on their ability to cope with the changing way this improving team is being perceived.

If the league had started on the day Hill was appointed, Bolton would currently sit a point outside the relegation zone with two or three games in hand on their immediate rivals in the table.

So while the manager is trying hard to keep people realistic, he is a man wrestling with expectations of his own making.

No-one knew what to think when he and David Flitcroft dragged together a squad of free transfers and loans over the course of a weekend, or whether his initial bravado about keeping the club in League One was misplaced.

Gradually, and to the management team’s credit, a positive picture has emerged.

Relatively unheralded signings like Adam Chicksen, Josh Emmanuel or Chris O’Grady have proven astute, while those with proven credentials like Liam Bridcutt and Jake Wright have shown glimpses of class.

There are still obvious caveats; injuries have been restrictive, the situation with the EFL disciplinary hangs like a cloud, but the fact this group is merging into a decent team is impossible to ignore.

Will it all be enough to avoid relegation? Who knows? Part of the fun is in the journey itself and if Bolton get nothing more out of this season, Hill at least has a chance to change a losing mentality within the club which has developed over the last few years. On that front, the portents are also good.

Wanderers were staring a frustrating draw against 10 men in the face for 24 minutes, underlined by pockets of discontented murmuring among home supporters, some of whom had filed down into the concourses by the time the winning goal arrived.

Murphy’s missed penalty would have hurt. The Irishman had a bad day at the office against Plymouth in the cup and his afternoon had not been especially productive up to that point – but there is something hugely reassuring about a player with such experience who can shrug off disappointment and write his own headlines.

Hill’s reaction to home expectations may have been rooted in those uncertain minutes after George Williams’ red card, rightly handed out by referee Andrew Madley for a silly shove in Thibaud Verlinden’s face. Perhaps a sense of entitlement did creep in, as it almost always does against 10 men.

Wanderers had to force the issue and too often on the day they had struggled to find the final touch of class that some of their build up play deserved.

Remi Matthews pulled off a magnificent save to divert Joe Mason’s shot on to the post and Lee Nicholls in the home goal made a few crucial stops in what was a fairly event-free first half.

Liam Bridcutt’s return from a fractured sternum and dislocated shoulder had been a welcome surprise, as had Josh Earl’s return to the team at centre-back. Wanderers’ line-up looked solid, even if the football was unspectacular.

Full-backs Chicksen and Emmanuel had been paragons of positivity on the flanks. They too had looked a little off-colour in the FA Cup last weekend but this was a marked return to form. Between the two, Luke Murphy had been the pick of the bunch, continuing his recent renaissance with a performance of real quality.

The former Leeds United man has had a fairly vanilla Wanderers career to date, inexplicably ignored for long spells under Phil Parkinson and seemingly unfancied when Hill first took charge, he looked for a long while a man destined to move on quickly. And yet Ali Crawford’s unfortunately injury has handed him an opportunity he has grabbed with both hands.

And though the appearance of Verlinden and Dennis Politic from the bench was the catalyst for Bolton pushing harder for the winning goal, it was Murphy who picked Baily Cargill’s pocket on the left and delivered the near post cross turned in by his namesake.

Cue bedlam in the stands, and a deafening roar the likes of which we have not heard at the UniBol for some time.

Was victory deserved? Not especially. But to strike with such venom late on is so un-Bolton like, it felt good for someone else to drive away from the UniBol feeling a sense of injustice.

Any punishment served up this week to Bolton will be equally hard to stomach but it should at least provide some clarity, a chance to move on. There will finally be a concrete target for Hill and his team to aim at – and on the strength of this showing, you shouldn’t back against them.