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Fulham manager Lawrie Sanchez had no complaints about the first-half dismissal of Paul Konchesky after his side managed to earn themselves a vital point against rock-bottom Derby at Craven Cottage.

Konchesky was red-carded seconds before the interval for an elbow offence on Derby’s Craig Fagan.

Fulham, thanks to an inspirational display from recalled goalkeeper Antti Niemi, held on in the second half to ensure they moved out of the relegation zone with a 0-0 draw.

Sanchez said: ‘I don’t think there was any argument to be fair. Paul has been our best player this season but what we didn’t want was to go down to 10 men in this game.

‘The referee had no other option and now we miss him for three games which will be a big miss for us because he has been our best player.

‘I will have a word with the lad on Monday and see what it is about because it seems out of character in terms of the game. I saw it 50 yards away and knew the referee had no option.

‘We will deal with it internally but it is disappointing. We played poorly in the first half, we looked tentative, nervous, and waiting for something to go wrong.

‘So then we do something wrong by going down to 10 men but I thought we came out and were the better team in the second half.

‘But then I come in and we’ve gone up five places in the league.’

The difference between the two sides was Niemi who made superb saves to deny Matt Oakley, Kenny Miller and Giles Barnes. But he would not have been playing had Kasey Keller not injured a tendon in his arm in training on Friday.

Sanchez said: ‘Niemi earned his money today and about time. He’s had injuries but he had three games this season and he let seven goals in.

‘He was at fault for some of those goals. Kasey would have been starting but he trained yesterday and then claimed his arm hurt.

‘He has now got a slight tear of a tendon in his upper arm and could not play. I told Niemi he was supposed to be number one at this club, but he hadn’t done it so far this year, the first three games were not good enough, but today he showed he was a good goalkeeper.

‘If we had lost today there would have been a lot more questions asked but we drew a game we should have won. I don’t know whether to be pleased, satisfied or what. I don’t know what to feel to be honest.’

Fulham were booed off the pitch at the end but Sanchez insists he can fully understand the frustration of the fans with just one win all season.

Sanchez added: ‘I don’t know whether it was at the referee for the sending off, with Derby for time-wasting or for us because they thought we should have had the three points. But I can understand the frustration – we haven’t scored for three games. But the league table doesn’t lie – we are 13th.’