Leeds, maintaining an unbeaten record at Upton Park which goes back to 1982, edged towards mid-table last night by virtue of their third away victory of the season. West Ham, who slipped into the bottom three over the weekend, remain there after second-half goals by Gary Kelly and Lee Bowyer left them with a solitary success from 11 League games.
The fixture pitted the Premiership's two lowest-scoring teams against each other, and there was little in the opening 45 minutes to encourage hopes of a goal spree. George Graham sent out a side brimming with defenders - no one would have been surprised had Lucas Radebe been man-marking Julian Dicks - while West Ham were clearly short of confidence.
According to their manager, Harry Redknapp, they are also short of a striker, with Pierre Van Hooijdonk and Dean Holdsworth his principal targets. Mike Newell, playing his last match on loan from Birmingham, linked with Steve Jones, but both found it hard to penetrate the white-shirted barrier.
Bowyer was a lively presence for Leeds, forcing Ludek Miklosko to dash from his line as he pursued Ian Rush's pass after 18 minutes. Brian Deane's wayward shot, which endangered traffic in the Barking Road more than Miklosko's goal, was more typical of the fare.
A characteristic rush of blood by Bowyer, who was cautioned with Newell after a real meeting of mindlessness, enlivened matters as the interval approached. For West Ham, Slaven Bilic's header from a Danny Williamson corner was a foot too high, while Rush's volley following a booming clearance by Nigel Martyn passed too close for Miklosko's comfort.
No sooner had Dicks unleashed a ferocious shot which tore past the angle of post and bar than Redknapp sent on an extra attacker, Hugo Porfirio. Expectations rose among a shivering crowd, but Leeds promptly deflated them after Bilic's 53rd-minute foul on Deane 25 yards out.
Kelly, who had scored only once in 175 appearances for Leeds and missed a penalty over Christmas, was entrusted with the free-kick. His shot came out off the bar only to strike Miklosko and bobble back over the line.
With 20 minutes remaining, Kelly charged forward to deliver another effort on goal after Deane's break down the left. Dicks' clearance went straight to Bowyer, who demonstrated the more wholesome side of his game by chesting the ball down and volleying his third goal of the season from 18 yards.
Bilic soon shot against the woodwork from fully 40 yards, confirming that this was not West Ham's night. Not to be outdone, Leeds' impressive new Dutch centre-back, Robert Molenaar, surged forward before firing narrowly wide.
West Ham United (4-4-2): Miklosko; Breacker, Rieper, Bilic, Dicks; Williamson, Bishop, Hughes, Lazaridis (Porfirio, 49); Newell, Jones. Substitutes not used: Lampard, Bowen, Potts, Sealey (gk).
Leeds United (3-5-2): Martyn; Molenaar, Wetherall, Radebe; Kelly, Jackson, Bowyer, Palmer, Halle; Rush, Deane Substitutes not used: Wallace, Harte, Ford, Beesley, Beeney (gk).
Referee: G Poll (Tring, Herts).