City succumbed to back-to-back 1-0 defeats as Souleymane Doukara’s second-half strike proved enough to secure maximum points at Elland Road.
In a game of few chances City created the best of them, but Doukara pounced just before the hour mark to decide a tight game in favour of the hosts.
John Pemberton handed a debut to one of his two new loan recruits, with Ben Gladwin starting in an advanced midfield role but Alex Pearce only among the substitutes.
Gladwin’s inclusion meant a couple of positional alterations; Luke Freeman to left wing, Joe Bryan to left-back.
There were six changes in total – with Korey Smith fit to return in midfield and Richard O’Donnell back between the posts – albeit only three from City’s last league outing in which they turned over Sky Bet Championship leaders Middlesbrough at Ashton Gate.
“It won’t be a game for the faint-hearted,” was Pemberton’s pre-match prediction, and those sentiments rang true when Nathan Baker cut Luke Murphy in two, only to escape without a caution.
Instead Leeds left-back Charlie Taylor was the first man into the book for pulling back Wes Burns in full flight.
By the midpoint in the first half neither side had a single shot on target to boast about in a cagey affair.
Former Bristol Rovers winger Mustapha Carayol sent a free kick soaring high over O’Donnell’s crossbar, while Leeds keeper Marco Silvestri twice had to scramble across to his near post to punch clear a pair of devilish Freeman corners.
Baker was ironically yellow carded when he won the ball near the touchline, having escaped a caution when he didn’t, and was walking a tightrope by the time he tripped Carayol soon after – seemingly on his final warning by the 28th minute.
City produced the best piece of football so far when Gladwin’s backheel set Jonathan Kodjia on a run at the home defence, before the Frenchman slid the ball into the path of Burns who was only denied by a last-ditch tackle.
Then Gladwin won the ball down on the bye-line but opted against pulling the ball back for a team-mate and ultimately saw his shot from a tight angle gathered at the second attempt by Silvestri.
The longer the first half went on, the more City looked the better side.
Bryan delivered one enticing cross from near the corner flag attacked by both Burns and Gladwin, who seemed to get in front of his team-mate to send a decent attempt just off target.
But it was Kodjia who looked the biggest threat. First he drew a foul with a razor-sharp drag back, before embarking on a solo run that was not the easiest on the eye but almost very effective.
Referee Charles Breakspear allowed the striker to play on when clearly impeded, before he bumbled his way beyond the last Leeds defender by which time he could only keep his footing long enough to stab the ball against the advancing Silvestri.
Any disappointment on Pearce’s part not to start the game was soon put to bed when he replaced Baker at half-time – perhaps down to a combination of his disciplinary problems as well as a nasty fall suffered shortly before the interval.
Leeds had been booed off for their below-par display in failing to trouble O’Donnell throughout the first period, but soon set about trying to make amends when Doukara could only supply a glancing blow to a teasing cross.
Help would arrive for the African in the form of a former City loan signing, Chris Wood, who added further attacking fuel to the fire.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the hosts edged in front five minutes later. Another cross from the right was not cleared and fell invitingly for Doukara to pass the ball into the bottom corner from 12 yards.
Pemberton responded by introducing Bobby Reid for the tiring Gladwin, before Pearce threatened to restore parity from a Marlon Pack corner but sent a free header over the top.
Chances at either end remained few and far between, which was not helping City’s pursuit of a point, but Leeds would be hanging on by the closing stages.
Aaron Wilbraham replaced Pack 13 minutes from time as the visitors switched to an orthodox 4-4-2, but it was from a set-piece that Pemberton’s men spurned a golden chance to equalise.
Having stayed forward from a City corner, you would have put good money on Aden Flint to level things up when picked out by Freeman, but the defender headed wide from eight yards.
Then City broke quickly through Freeman down the left, before Wilbaham’s first-time pass set up Luke Ayling for another clear sight of goal, but after stepping inside on to his left foot, Ayling’s shot was tame and Silvestri could collapse on the ball.
The Italian keeper’s blushes were spared when he spilt a Burns cross, only to pounce on the loose ball with Kodjia lurking.