Derby County earned a valuable point in the capital as it ended goalless at Craven Cottage against league leaders Fulham.
It was a strong performance from the Rams who had to dig in throughout the game to ensure they earned a point on the road against a strong Fulham outfit.
And the Rams had good chances to take the lead in the game, especially in the first half. Tom Lawrence twice went close, forcing strong saves from Fulham stopper Paulo Gazzaniga.
But they did have to defend heroically in the second half as Phil Jagielka denied Neeskens Kebano in front of goal, whilst Fabio Carvalho fired against the post.
The Fulham man thought he had won the game in the final ten minutes of the game as he chested and shot at goal but Rams goalkeeper Kelle Roos pulled off a strong stop to ensure the points were shared at Craven Cottage and pick up four points from a possible six against two of the league’s high-flyers.
Manager Wayne Rooney made two changes to the side which beat AFC Bournemouth on Sunday as Nathan Byrne and Craig Forsyth returned to the side in the absence of injured duo Lee Buchanan and Sam Baldock.
The Rams more than matched the league leaders in the first half as both sides had good chances to go into the break ahead.
Fulham’s Fabio Carvalho twice had a sighter of goal early on, firing wide on both occasions from outside the box, but the Rams quickly established themselves in the game.
And on 15 minutes, they almost took the lead. Central defender Curtis Davies won the ball on the half way line and strode forward into space. He fed Tom Lawrence in the penalty area, the skipper chopped inside and shot but Paulo Gazzaniga fortunately managed to get a hand on the ball as it slowly drifted wide.
Fulham posed an obvious threat in attack and started the day as the highest scorers in the division. They almost extended that run of scoring soon after as Jean Michael Seri took aim from distance and saw his effort rebound off the crossbar.
However, the Rams continued to take the game to the league leaders and Festy Ebosele’s pace was causing the home side a lot of problems. He managed to get beyond Antonee Robinson and provided a low cross which had to be turned behind for a corner, with Forsyth rushing to get in the middle.
The Rams grew further in confidence as they applied the pressure further up the field. Graeme Shinnie won the ball in a good area and fed Liam Thompson on the edge of the box.
The midfielder found Max Bird who played a neat one-two with Lawrence which provided him with a sight of goal, however, Fulham’s Kenny Tete managed to get across and deny the Rams’ number eight a certain opportunity on goal.
It was certainly an entertaining affair at Craven Cottage as Kelle Roos produced a good save to keep the scores goalless. A deflected free kick left the goalkeeper wrong-footed, but he recovered and tipped Neeskens Kebano’s effort wide.
Fulham’s Rodrigo Muniz almost profited from a loose back pass soon after as he was presented with a golden opportunity but he fired wide from the edge of the box.
And five minutes before the break Lawrence almost gave Derby the lead. As Ebosele was dispossessed midway through the Fulham half, the ball ricocheted into the path of Lawrence barring down on goal. He took a touch and unleashed a fierce effort but Gazzaniga managed to make a smart stop.
With half time looming, full back Nathan Byrne produced two excellent pieces of defending to ensure the scores were level at the break. He twice denied Kebano in front of goal as Derby produced a strong first half showing at Craven Cottage.
The home side came out strong at the start of the second half as the Rams had to withstand some heavy pressure, but the defence held firm.
Roos made a smart stop to deny Carvalho from the edge of the box, whilst Phil Jagielka put his body on the line to deny Kebano in front of goal.
With Fulham upping the tempo, they were almost rewarded with the opening goal of the game on the hour mark. A cross into the middle found Carvalho who swivelled in the box and shot, but his effort rebounded off the post before Muniz headed wide.
But, despite that early pressure, Derby once again grew into the half and showed tremendous energy on the counter attack. Lawrence saw a shot go wide from 30 yards on 65 minutes and the midfield trio of Shinnie, Bird and Thompson did their best to break up the play when needed.
With the game entering the final ten minutes, the home side again went in search of that illusive first goal. And Derby had to rely on their goalkeeper to keep them in the game.
A cross into the box from Tete found Carvalho at the back post. He took a touch on his chest and unleashed a powerful effort from 12 yards but Roos pulled off an incredible one-handed save to deny the forward.
Fulham continued to probe and an enticing ball into the box forced Muniz to try an acrobatic effort from the penalty spot which went narrowly over Roos’ crossbar.
But, Derby fought until the end and looked to find the goal which would hand them the three points. Knight almost found it as he received a pass from substitute Ravel Morrison but his effort was saved at the near post as the game ended goalless.
Fulham: Gazzaniga, Tete, Reed (Onomah 65’), Kebano, Wilson (Knockaert 78’), Ream, Adarabioyo, Muniz, Seri, Carvalho, Robinson.
Substitutes: Las, Hector, Odoi, Reid, Bryan.
Derby County: Roos, Byrne, Forsyth (Morrison 83’), Shinnie, Jagielka, Bird, Lawrence, Davies, Ebosele (Kazim-Richards 70’), Knight, Thompson.
Substitutes: Allsop, Jozwiak, Stearman, Sibley, Williams.