Fulham 0 Derby County 0

Fulham boss Lawrie Sanchez was left red-faced by his side's inept display against basement boys Derby County, as the visitors came within a whisker of taking all three points

With matches against Sunderland and Reading on the horizon, Sanchez left his players in no doubt as to how vital victory was against a struggling Derby side - making five changes from the team that drew at Chelsea last time out.

But despite the changes, it was Derby that should have taken all three points from an encounter that will not live long in the memory.

Fulham laboured throughout against a side that had yet to score a goal away from home nor gain a single point, yet Derby should have ended that particular hoodoo after creating a catalogue of chances.

In a dire first half, neither side appeared capable of putting two passes together, let-alone creating a goalscoring opportunity.

But it was the visitors that looked more likely and Antti Niemi was called into action to deny both Kenny Miller and Eddie Lewis as Derby settled the quicker of the two.

Fulham V Rams
Derby County's Stephen Pearson works hard to produce a goal in yesterday's match but the game ends all square
County continued to press forward and came close to breaking the deadlock midway through the first half, Aaron Hughes almost sending a header past his own goalkeeper only for Niemi to produce a scrambling save.

With the game meandering towards half-time, Fulham were dealt a major blow as Paul Konchesky was shown a straight red card after elbowing Craig Fagan in the face.

Referee Phil Dowd showed little hesitation before dismissing the defender, despite Fagan's theatrics which brought the Derby man little in the way of sympathy.

With a man advantage, Derby flew out of the traps in the second half and Niemi was forced to turn Matt Oakley's rasping drive behind for a corner kick as the visitors threatened once again.

And from the resulting corner the visitors should have claimed the lead - Lewis' floated delivery was met by the head of Giles Barnes - but Niemi saved wonderfully to keep Fulham level.

Barnes resumed his personal duel with Niemi just moments later, the midfielder sending a piledriver towards goal only for the Fulham keeper to produce the block.

With the clock ticking down towards full-time Derby piled forward in search of that elusive goal, but Miller could only roll his effort wide of the post from 12 yards, while Steve Howard came within a millimetres of diverting Andy Griffin's pass beyond Niemi.

There was still time for Miller to waste yet another glorious opportunity for the visitors, as Billy Davies was left in disbelief as to how his side failed to break their away-day hoodoo.