West Ham played attractively throughout. They dominated, hit the post and bar, and their luck in defeat was bemoaned by their manager, Harry Redknapp. This was pure relegation material.
Harry likes a bet and this morning he will see strong odds that his men will join Leicester and Ipswich under the trap door at season's end. He should have a bet.
West Ham still have the romantic glee of a side who think they should be in the top flight. But they do not have the results. "If we were playing crap week in week out I'd be the first to hold my hand up," Redknapp said.
All this got to Harry, the man from the Academy who must know that Borstal tactics have to be employed quickly (the chain-gang haircuts of Allen, Dicks and Morley are a start). A reporter asked for an interview, and he declined. "I don't really want to talk to anyone because I'm pissed off," the manager said.
West Ham must take their opportunities more frequently than the once they did on Saturday. The Tannoy told us the marksman then was "Deadly" Don Hutchison, which worked in both senses of the word. The former Liverpool man was both a ferocious cannon of long-range shots and a man with the balance of a new-born antelope. His early intervention stuck out rudely as the most difficult of the profligate Hammers' many chances.
For much of the encounter Chelsea were poor. They were without a win in the previous 10 League games, and were digging in, rather than climbing out of, a desperate rut. On this evidence the Cup-Winners' Cup tie at Club Bruges tomorrow will prove fruitless unless the quest for Stephen Fry, who has been spotted in the Flanders city, is a central theme.
Glenn Hoddle, their manager, thought the result was a just reward. "I'm a great believer in what goes around comes around." he said. "We battered them here in a Cup game and lost 1-0."
Hoddle paid tribute to, Redknapp marvelled incredulously at, a winning goal from the previously invisible Mark Stein who improved on Craig Burley's equaliser. The striker finished his scoring waltz with a Eubank pose, which was apt when you face opponents as well picked as this. West Ham, who will embark on a tour of Australia at the end of the campaign, may be going down twice.
Goals: Hutchison (11) 1-0; Burley (67) 1-1; Stein (75) 1-2.
West Ham United (4-3-1-2): Miklosko; Breacker, Reiper, Potts, Dicks; Allen, Bishop, Moncur; Hutchison; Morley, Cottee. Substitutes not used: Rush, Brown, Sealey (gk).
Chelsea (4-4-2): Kharin (Hitchcock, 81); Clarke, Lee, Johnson, Minto; Rocastle (Furlong, 57), Newton, Burley, Peacock; Spencer, Stein. Substitute not used: Myers.
Referee: G Ashby (Worcester).