Bolton became the first side to win at Salford this season, boosting their promotion bid as Lloyd Isgrove claimed the only goal of a fiery local derby.
After top scorer Ian Henderson wasted an early chance for Salford, Bolton took control with a dominant spell.
Captain Eoin Doyle had four great chances inside the first 15 minutes, denied three times by goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky and narrowly failing to bundle home Isgrove's header across goal.
The breakthrough came midway through the first half when Isgrove clipped a low ball in from the right and it fortuitously bounced through a crowd of players and into the bottom corner.
Tempers frayed as the home side fought back into the game in front of co-owners Gary Neville, Nicky Butt and Ryan Giggs, as well as their former Manchester United team-mate Roy Keane.
Henderson lifted a great chance over the bar and Tom Clarke headed wide before the break.
Salford dominated the second half but could not find a way through, Henderson heading over and Bolton defending brilliantly to block every other sniff of danger, with huge celebrations greeting the final whistle.