There were centre-forwards wherever you looked here, but none of them are prolific scorers and it showed, but between the misses Hugo Rodellega produced a goal that Lawton, Dean and Lofthouse would have been proud of to head Fulham towards a badly-needed victory.
The Colombian's barnstorming 49th-minute header cut short a Hammers revival during which Kevin Nolan had cancelled out Dimitar Berbatov's 10th-minute strike. West Ham rallied again, but were condemned to defeat when Jussi Jaaskelainen palmed out Rodallega's 90th-minute shot and in the scramble that followed the ball went on off Joey O'Brien.
"Dental work" meant West Ham manager Sam Allardyce sent assistant Neil McDonald into the press conference to blame his team's defending for Fulham's second and the officials for the first. "There were three people offside, and we think we should have had two penalties so we feel harshly done for. But we showed tremendous character," he said.
"You win some, you lose some, hopefully today we've won some," said Martin Jol, Fulham manager. "We've not had much luck recently but tonight I'm a happy customer."
For both managers this fixture was an unwanted distraction from the frustrating but necessary matter of team-strengthening. With both clubs having won two of their previous 15 league matches the need is obvious and McDonald and Jol said they hoped to do more business before the transfer window shuts.
Each had new recruits but the Emmanuels, Frimpong and Pogatez, were left on their respective benches. They watched two teams low on belief make a scrappy start before the scoring was opened by a messy goal. Damien Duff's free-kick eluded everybody except Berbatov who came unmarked round the back before stooping to mark his 32nd birthday with a goal.
Paradoxically it was West Ham who then became more dominant as Fulham retreated to protect their lead. Twice the visitors could have levelled but Matt Jarvis headed over and Nolan wide.
Nolan did not spurn an opportunity twice. Three minutes after the break he ran away from the dozing Berbatov as Mark Noble took a quick free-kick and clipped a shot between Mark Schwarzer's legs from a tight angle.
Parity was brief. John Arne Riise fed Duff on the left and Rodallega rose above three Hammers' defenders to head his third goal of the season.
West Ham were again invited to take the game to their hosts and Nolan went close to another equaliser with 20 minutes remaining, bringing a fingertip save from Schwarzer. Enter Andy Carroll, finally fit again. He tested Schwarzer with his first touch, but his next effort flew well over and West Ham's hopes went with it.
Man of the match Berbatov.
Match rating 7/10.
Referee C Foy (Lancashire).