AFC TOTTON have unearthed a hot new strike talent - totally by accident!

The Stags, who travel to bogey side Taunton Town in the FA Trophy on Saturday, got a pleasant surprise during Tuesday’s 4-1 win at Winchester City in the Challenge Cup.

Midfielder Charlie Gunson wasn’t keen to play after a spell out with ankle trouble, but boss Louis Langdown told him he was in his starting line-up and, what’s more, he was playing up front!

Gunson responded by coming safely through 90 minutes and netting three goals into the bargain.

“We made the decision to see how Charlie reacted after his injury and, lo and behold, he scored a hat-trick,” smiled Langdown.

“We might just have found his preferred position by accident.

“We originally asked Charlie to play the No4 position, directing play from our half, because he’s so good on the ball. But he didn’t like that and wanted to play further forward.

“But we’ve got an abundance of midfielders and maybe playing up front will suit him. His link-up play is excellent and he’s got one of the best, if not the best, strikes at the club. I didn’t think he would be so good with his back to goal.

“He was buzzing afterwards and this could end up being a permanent change for him.”

Langdown, though, is likely to stick with tried and trusted frontline duo Nathaniel Sherborne and Craig Feeney at Taunton.

“Those two have done reasonably well. If they’re not scoring goals, they’re setting them up,” said the boss. “But we know Charlie can play that role now, so that gives us options.”

Saturday’s trip comes less than a month after the Stags lost 2-1 at Taunton in Evo-Stik South West – unluckily sunk by a controversial penalty.

“Taunton were gracious in victory. Everyone felt we were well in the game and deserved something out of it, so that was nice feedback,” said Langdown.

“This is a different fixture in a different competition and, if can rectify the last result, fantastic. If we can’t, we move on. Our performances are getting where we need them to be.”

Saturday’s winners bank £3,000 from the FA Prize Fund and there is another £3,250 on offer at home to Merthyr Town in the first qualifying round on October 28.

“It would be nice to get a win. We’ve been up against it a bit with five away games in the cups,” said Langdown. “It’s not ideal because money’s tight and home games are where we get the revenue.

“We’re on the road again next week (at Cinderford in the league), so it’s a bit of a sticky patch for us.”

With Jack Smith (cut lip) and Connor York (thigh) doubtful and Sam Roberts still out, Totton hope to have Aldershot loanee defender Jack Barker back from injury.