Kevin Blackwell feels the Championship play-off semi-final is 'all to play for' after Sheffield United drew 1-1 at Preston North End in the first leg.
Sean St Ledger put Preston ahead at Deepdale after 21 minutes before Brian Howard volleyed an equaliser within 20 seconds of the start of the second half.
Blades substitute Craig Beattie had two golden opportunities to score a winner, but Blackwell was satisfied with the result away from home.
"I think what we had to do was make sure the game was open for us to get back to Bramall Lane," Blackwell told Sky Sports 1.
"The players were fantastic and I thought both teams give it a right good go and that was a great game for the first leg.
"It's all to play for at Bramall Lane for both teams, and we're well aware of that."
Blackwell believes his team have been making progress in recent weeks and was delighted with the response to falling behind in the first half.
He added: "I've got a great set of players and you saw tonight what a great set they are. They responded magnificently.
"They didn't panic and I was delighted with our movement of the ball. I thought we kept the ball well, we moved it and opened them up.
"When you look at the age of the team, there are five Under 21s there and we learnt at Burnley not to panic and put balls in too early.
"They've taken things on board as we've gone along and I'm delighted with the response tonight."
Darius Henderson was forced off early in the second half due to an Achilles problem, making the striker a doubt for the second leg on Monday night.
"There was a concern over him before the game," admitted Blackwell. "He had an injection for an Achilles problem and he just couldn't carry on, so that was the problem we had during the week."