SOUTHAMPTON'S Jos Hooiveld struck on the stroke of half-time to win the battle of the Championship's top two at St Mary's Stadium and send Nigel Adkins' men five points clear.
Hooiveld's header was the only goal of the game against Sam Allardyce's improving West Ham, while the night got better for the Saints as both Middlesbrough and Derby dropped points.
Boro were beaten 2-0 by Nottingham Forest at the City Ground, where goals from Marcus Tudgay and Lewis McGugan gave Forest their first home league win of the season in Steve Cotterill's first game in charge.
Meanwhile, Nigel Clough's Derby twice blew a second-half lead to draw 2-2 at Reading. Theo Robinson and Tomasz Cywka scored for the Rams but Adam Le Fondre equalised twice, his second a 77th-minute header.
Crystal Palace jumped three places to fifth after heaping more misery on managerless bottom club Bristol City with a 1-0 win at Selhurst Park. Glenn Murray got the winner for Palace nine minutes from time from the spot.
Brighton lost some ground after being held to a 1-1 draw by struggling Millwall at the New Den. Craig Noone's 61st-minute goal looked like sending the Seagulls on their way to three more points before Jay Simpson equalised nine minutes from time.
Irish defender Darren O'Dea gave Leeds a 26th-minute lead over Coventry at Elland Road, but the visitors snatched a 1-1 draw in injury-time with Richard Wood's strike.
Peterborough edged a seven-goal thriller at home to Cardiff after hitting back from Don Cowie's sixth-minute opener for the visitors to lead 2-1 at the break through George Boyd and Grant McCann.
Peter Whittingham and Aron Gunnarson restored the Bluebirds' lead in the second half only for McCann to equalise with an 87th-minute penalty and Paul Taylor to pounce to claim a 4-3 win for Posh in injury-time.
The week got worse for Portsmouth, who, fresh from losing their manager to Forest, were sunk 1-0 by Ipswich at Portman Road, with Keith Andrews getting the only goal in the 69th minute.