After recording a resounding 8-1 victory over today's opponents in their last match, the return fixture was an altogether different affair. Winscombe's first-half performance was as stodgy as the weather-battered pitch and they found themselves 2-1 behind at the break.
Axbridge broke the deadlock on 14 minutes when their striker latched onto a through ball and finished with precision. 0-1. The home side's response was commendably immediate, with Riley Sinclair slotting home from a Ben Neary free-kick a minute later. 1-1. However, the visitors soon regained their advantage when a defensive mix-up allowed them to retake the lead. 1-2.
As disjointed as Winscombe's performance was, they weren't short on creating chances. Sinclair saw another effort fly just over, before Isaac Hale put a header over the bar. Within seconds, Hale went close again, with only the woodwork denying him his ninth goal of the season. Winscombe went agonisingly close again when Ted Palmer couldn't quite convert Jackson Cook's inviting cross with the goal gaping.
Into the second half, the home side continued to create chances. When Finn Williamson's cross was parried by the Axbridge keeper, it took a fine second save to deny Cook's goal-bound shot. Dougie Gait then went close twice, first hitting the post before, a few moments later, breaking through the defence only to see his shot drift beyond the far post. The visitors' keeper was determined to protect his side's lead, again saving impressively, this time stopping a fierce shot from Palmer.
The Axbridge forward line then doubled their advantage when a long shot evaded stand-in keeper Sam Hudson and glanced against the far post on its way into the net. 1-3.
With Winscombe's winning streak in serious jeopardy, it was time to roll up the sleeves and dig deep. With the vast majority of goals this season coming in the second period, hope sprang eternal among the management team that history would repeat itself, especially as the chances kept coming, with the head of Williamson just failing to convert another Cook cross.
Within seconds, though, another Williamson header set up Gait who, after helping himself to a hat-trick in the previous encounter, slotted home for his fourth goal against Axbridge this season. 2-3. That this strike had reignited Winscombe was clear when, less than a minute later, a characteristically mazy Hale dribble set up Palmer. His backheel was blocked but, with assistance from Gait, he stabbed the rebound home. 3-3.
From then on, it seemed that only one team would take all three points. Cook was making a series of high-pace charges down the right flank, often working well in tandem with Neary who had shifted across from his usual left-back berth into central defence. A Cook cross went narrowly past the far post, but it wasn't long before Winscombe struck again. Hale threaded the ball through the Axbridge defence for Palmer to poke the ball home. 3-4. The scoring was completed within 60 seconds when a speculative shot from the ever-busy Max Brean evaded the Axbridge keeper. 3-5.
While Winscombe's reinvigorated second-half performance showcased their battling spirit and attacking verve, these qualities will need to be on show for the entire 70 minutes of their next match, an encounter with the unbeaten league leaders Portishead.