Wellington's brief unbeaten A-League run is over, but coach Darije Kalezic is satisfied with the effort from his makeshift team in their 1-0 loss to Adelaide United.
George Blackwood's 32nd-minute strike proved the difference between the two teams at Westpac Stadium after the Phoenix were hit late by injury.
Hamstring tightness ruled out playmaker Roy Krishna, while Serbian striker Andrija Kaludjerovic struggled with a heel injury for much of the match until his 58th-minute substitution.
After two wins and a draw in their last three matches, 10th-placed Wellington were hunting a win over fifth-ranked Adelaide to boost them into seventh on the A-League ladder.
Kalezic said the attitude his players showed against Adelaide was encouraging.
"I think the players did everything tonight - they fight until the last minute, they are looking for opportunities and chances, and they showed really good heart and really good spirit," he said.
"I remember the time when it was different here so I cannot blame the players, they did all they could."
However, the Phoenix lacked penetration in the attacking third and although they created some late chances couldn't find the crucial finish.
Krishna's fitness remains under question, with Kalezic unsure whether or not the Fijian striker will be fit to play against Sydney.
Wellington face a daunting away challenge, but Kalezic is hopeful he will be able to field a more settled line-up.
Sydney have lost only once this season, a 2-0 defeat to Central Coast back in early November, and have already beaten the Nix twice this season.
Kalezic is hopeful a strengthened back line will allow Wellington to push the defending champions at home on Friday.
Marco Rossi will return from from suspension, Daniel Mullen looks to have shaken off his knee injury and Dylan Fox is poised to return from the persistent hamstring strain which has sidelined him recently.
Any injury to Krishna could well be more devastating to Wellington's top-six hopes, and Kalezic will await feedback from medical staff with some trepidation.
"Roy complained about tightness - he's not really injured," Kalezic said.
As is the case with Kaludjerovic, he said, the Phoenix will just have to be patient.
"We don't know how serious the injuries are - we have to wait a couple of days."