Bolton Wanderers 1 Portsmouth 0
Nolan's stunning finish from Kevin Davies' header in the 24th minute was worthy of winning any game and Bolton deservedly took all three points against a Pompey side that looks set to have a long winter battling against relegation.
Bolton boss Sam Allardyce restored Jay-Jay Okocha to his side, while Portsmouth manager Alain Perrin brought former Newcastle star Laurent Robert into his starting line-up.
Nolan and Kevin Davies went close for Bolton in the opening minutes but Wanderers suffered a setback when Gary Speed was forced to limp out of the action to be replaced by youngster Joey O'Brien, who was making his first appearance of the season.
But Allardyce's side regrouped well and took the lead midway through the first half when Henrik Pedersen's cross was headed on by Davies for Nolan to fire a brilliant overhead kick that left Jamie Ashdown helpless.
Hidetoshi Nakata almost immediately made it 2-0 when his ambitious flick from Ricardo Gardner's cross flew just wide.
When Pompey responded Brian Priske's cross just was just too far ahead of Dario Silva for him to connect before Matt Taylor's 20-yard shot flew straight at Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Portsmouth edged the second half with Priske looking particularly dangerous but there was never anyone able to get on the end of his teasing crosses.
Nolan should have made the game safe for Bolton in the closing stages when he ran clear, but screwed his shot wide from only ten yards out.
Pompey never really created a clear-cut chance as they pressed for an equaliser and their evening was summed up by Richard Hughes' long-range effort that was easily saved by Jaaskelainen.
A frustrated Perrin was sent off after he applauded the fourth official in ironic fashion to cap another depressing match for the south coast side.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Kevin Nolan (Bolton) - Scored a stunning goal but was also at the hub of all Bolton's best attacking moves as he continued his excellent start to the campaign.