Hammered 7-1 on their last visit to Accrington just under three weeks ago, the Bolton boss insists he has moved on from the club’s heaviest-ever defeat at this level of football.
Hill reasoned that his players allowed Josh Earl’s controversial early red card to have too great an effect on the game – but says the result will have no bearing whatsoever on his team-talk at the Wham Stadium as Wanderers look to book a trip to Fleetwood in the Northern Area quarter-finals.
“I never bring negativity with me,” he told The Bolton News. “If I have a deep discussion or an argument with someone, when it’s over it’s over. It’ll be the same here.”
Asked whether his players would share his indifference towards the previous encounter against John Coleman’s side, Hill hopes they take a similar view.
“We’re not all the same,” he said. “My mentality is that it’s just another game.
“As a player you have got to have broad shoulders and take it on. We’re not playing at the Etihad or Old Trafford, we’re playing at Accrington Stanley. I don’t get how there can be a negative psychology about that.
“Whether you got beat last time or not, this is an opportunity to go and win a game. You wake up every morning and you’ve got a chance to do something different with your day.
“Sometimes you have to brainwash yourself to stay that way, not take on the negative stuff. You become the company you keep, maybe, and I have people around me who are like-minded and want to take the world on. There can’t be any fear.”
Both managers last month accepted that the pivotal point was when referee Anthony Backhouse pointed to the spot in the 14th minute with Bolton a goal to the good, then chose to send off defender Earl for a foul on Dion Charles.
The Football Association’s disciplinary committee upheld his decision – much to the chagrin of folk on this side of Lancashire – and Earl could well make his comeback to the starting 11 on the very same ground.
Some speculated at the time that Hill could have sent on defensive reinforcements quicker to steady the ship, and the Bolton boss believes there are some footballing lessons to be learned.
“From a football sense, we can’t avoid getting someone sent off,” he said. “But the mindset from the players has to be a bit stronger. If something negative happens, as it did with Josh’s sending off, then there has to be a more positive reaction.
“The attitude wasn’t right. We became a victim of the circumstance and I don’t like that.
“If I am being honest, I would get stronger personalities on the pitch. When you are down to 10 men you have to have functional players out there doing a job to make sure the scoreline stays 1-1.
“We’ve all been there as players where we’ve won games with 10 men and lost them. I think the day after we played Middlesbrough were 2-0 up against Hull City and ended up drawing the game 2-2.
“I would ask my players to go out there and keep the right mentality. If you get beat, get beat the right way. Leave a bit on the opponents because there will always be another game.
“We play Accrington again at home in the league, so we need to start punching our weight.
“Times are hard but you can’t become a victim of a referee’s actions. And as a side-note I still can’t believe for the life of me why that wasn’t overturned at appeal.”
Hill also reiterated his view that some Wanderers fans are expecting a little too much from his side at their current stage of development.
Some grumbles of discontent could be heard at the UniBol in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Wimbledon and Hill says he has spoken to other supporters around the town who believe the team should be further down the line that is currently is, with 28 games of the League One season remaining.
Pointing out that the last Bolton team to play at this level had a playing budget of £13million – way in advance of his own – Hill reasoned that the levels of expectation should be tempered slightly as the team continues to build.
“I don’t think some people understand what we are doing or where we have come from,” he said. “I am not trying to offend anybody here but the last time the club was in League One they were spending vast amounts of money they didn’t have. I’ll say that openly. It can’t be done again.
“There’s a different way of doing it now but we don’t have a miracle formula. It will take time to fix what has happened, stuff I wasn’t responsible for. It falls on my lap what we’re trying to do right here, right now.
“We have those short and long-term plans that you need in football but the foundations are only just being put in place. We’re nowhere near started on 100 days in the job.
“We need a bit of understanding. There are certainly no big hitters in this squad, as they had last time.
“I’m out there in the community all the time, I was on Saturday after the game. And I think there’s still an expectation from people for the club to spend that type of money. We just can’t and anyone that thinks we can has got their head buried in the sand.”
Wandererers reported no new injuries from the weekend but are not expecting Joe Bunney or Will Buckley back in action short-term despite their return to the training ground, pictured on social media.