Cardiff City boss Dave Jones praised his players for rising to the challenge of a "battle" with Reading.
A Championship play-off semi-final, first leg was high in effort but had little in the way of goal-mouth action, ending 0-0 at the Madejski Stadium.
Craig Bellamy limped off early in the first half with a suspected hamstring strain and Cardiff's star striker could be a doubt for Tuesday's second leg.
"We knew it would be a battle... it was a tough one," Jones said.
"We know the way they play: they put a lot of balls into the channels and into the box and you've got to defend it and defend for your lives.
"I think it became just a battle of attrition really. It was going from end to end but it was always going to be like that, we knew that.
"The way they play, they get the ball forward and they put you under immense pressure and we had to deal with it.
"Getting out from the back and playing, we could have done a little bit better.
"I think both teams just basically killed each other in the middle of the park.
"It's two teams put a shift in. It might not have been a great deal of quality in goal action but it was hard fought."
Bellamy looked bright early on but pulled up after just 17 minutes clutching the back of his thigh.
Michael Chopra replaced the on-loan Manchester City forward to partner Jay Bothroyd in the Bluebirds' attack.
"He just felt something at the back of the leg, so he came off straight away," Jones said.
"It's not worth risking it and the same with Quinny [Paul Quinn], as soon as he's had a little bit of a knee problem, as soon as he felt it we janked him off.
"You lose your good players but good players come on as well."
Bellamy will undergo a scan on Saturday to assess his chances of playing in Tuesday's night's return at the Cardiff City Stadium.
"It's half-time, I've just said to the players now, and we know we've got another tough one... we're going to have another battle," Jones added.
"We're going to get in tomorrow [Saturday], get prepared and start again."