Speed scored his fourth goal of the season against Fulham
Bolton's push for a Champions League place gathered pace after a deserved victory over Fulham.
Gary Speed gave Bolton the lead with a penalty after Michael Brown had tangled with Nicolas Anelka in the box.
Early in the second half Bolton extended their lead when skipper Kevin Nolan poked home after Stelios Giannakopoulos' header struck the post.
Fulham pulled one back when Zat Knight headed in a corner, while Tomasz Radzinski was denied a late equaliser.
Despite the pristine pitch, re-turfed ahead of the match, both sides were guilty of careless play in the opening stages.
Just as Fulham finally seemed to be settling into their rhythm, a moment of rashness by Brown handed Bolton the penalty, and turned the match in their favour.
Midway through the first half Brown tried to tackle Anelka from behind and Speed make no mistake has he planted the ball beyond Jan Lastuvka.
The goal knocked Fulham out of their stride and Abdoulaye Meite came close to a second when he collected Andranik Teymourian's deep corner only to volley over the bar.
Teymourian, making the most of his first league start for the club, forced Lastuvka to brilliantly tip over a lofted effort, and Fulham were lucky to go in at half-time just a goal down.
Bolton quickly doubled their lead after the break when Nolan showed great reactions to stab the ball home in the 51st minute following good work by Stelios and Nicky Hunt.
606 DEBATE: Your reaction to Bolton's victory
Stelios picked up a deep cross by Hunt only to see his shot hit the woodwork, but Nolan was quick to knock in the rebound.
Fulham boss Chris Coleman muttered angrily on the sidelines and Heidar Helguson failed to lift his gloom when his decent effort was cleared off the line.
Knight's goal originated from some good work from substitutes Radzinski and Alexei Smertin earning Fulham a corner against the run of play.
And Knight rose to meet Simon Davies' excellent kick to drive the ball powerfully beyond Jussi Jasskelainen.
David Thompson, making his debut for Bolton, saw his right-footed shot deflected after some good play from the industrious Anelka as the home side went back on the attack.
And with just seconds left on the clock Radzinski saw his header tipped to safety by Jaaskelainen.
Bolton boss Sam Allardyce:
"There is still a long way to go but we have put ourselves in a good position to further our record points total which is 58.
"We put on an excellent performance especially with the players missing and that gives me great heart for the rest of the season.
"When the chances came we took them and Jussi Jaaskelainen proved he was world class with a match-winning save at the end."
Fulham manager Chris Coleman:
"We were doing OK and were never in any difficulty but the way we conceded the goals was hard to take.
"We reacted too slowly and, though we got ourselves back into the game, we just did not get anything today.
" We are very disappointed. We keep changing our tactics and perhaps we are analysing things too much."
Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Hunt, Meite, Ben Haim, Gardner, Nolan, Speed (Thompson 68), Teymourian (Tal 81), Giannakopoulos, Anelka, Diouf (Pedersen 86).
Subs Not Used: Walker, Vaz Te.
Goals: Speed 23 pen, Nolan 51.
Fulham: Lastuvka, Volz (Radzinski 63), Queudrue, Knight, Christanval, Rosenior, Brown (Smertin 62), Diop, Davies, McBride, Helguson (Montella 67).
Subs Not Used: Warner, Routledge.
Booked: Brown, Helguson, Davies, Queudrue.
Goals: Knight 66.
Ref: H Webb (S Yorkshire).