In the end it was the world champions who ran out 26-21 winners in the first encounter of the three-match series but McGeechan admits he sensed a different outcome after Croft had claimed his second score of the game with eight minutes remaining.
"With eight minutes to go we were playing well," said McGeechan, who coached the Lions to victory the last time they appeared in Durban 12 years ago.
"We had given ourselves a mountain to climb. I thought that in the last eight minutes we would probably have another crack and do it in the end.
"I thought we would get one more opportunity in that last five minutes and I think they did as well."
McGeechan made a point of the number of penalties his side conceded, particularly in the first half, but he remains confident that the Lions can turn the series around in Pretoria and Johannesburg.
"The penalties killed us in the end," he added. "Without playing much rugby South Africa were able to accumulate enough points.
"But I am hugely proud of the rugby. That was high-quality rugby.
"Of Course we can still do this. That's why we are here."