Western United will have to come from behind if it is to win through to the A-League grand final.
A special strike from Jake Brimmer in the 74th minute gave Melbourne Victory a 1-0 lead in the first of a two game series.
United coach John Aloisi was full of praise for his side, despite conceding the one goal.
“The turnaround from Saturday to Tuesday was excellent,” he said.
“The first half our pressure on the ball was superb. We limited them to few chances if any and they had to score a special goal to win the game.
“We had our moments. We could have punished them and we didn’t. If we play like that [in game two] we’re well and truly in this tie.
“We’re pleased with the performance, [but] obviously we would have liked to have grabbed a goal and grab something out of the game.”
Aloisi thought they were unlucky not to get a penalty in the early stages of the game, when Lachie Wales was taken down by a defender.
Had they got that it could have given the side the start they were after.
Aloisi said the boys didn’t drop their heads, even when Brimmer scored.
“We’ll take a lot of it,” he said. “Our reaction was good and we didn’t leave ourselves open. [At] 1-0 you can leave yourself open and cop another a goal and the tie could be a little more difficult,
“We kept calm, we had our opportunities towards the end, that we didn’t make the most of. We’re excited for Saturday night now and I can see our boys are excited too.
“They felt we can give them some game on Saturday.”
He said the one thing they could have done better was not giving the ball away too easy in the second half when they had control.
One positive out of the game was the return of Josh Risdon to the starting line up. Taking the captain’s armband as well, Risdon showed plenty of calmness on the ball.
Aloisi said the group was now prepared for what Melbourne Victory would throw at them on Saturday in game two.
“Our guys will recover well,” he said.
“If they sit back no problem, we’ll create a chance like we did with Ben Garuccio at the end and we nearly got that goal.
“We’ll play a certain way, we are ready for whatever they try and do and we’ll play our game, we don’t have to panic it’s one goal,
“We don’t have to think we have to do something different.”
Aloisi said Steven Lustica was likely to be back for Saturday, but Rene Krhin is out for the season.