Gary Setchell watched Conor Washington rip his King’s Lynn Town team to shreds yesterday before admitting the highly-rated striker is destined for a bright future in the game.

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The 19-year-old St Ives Town frontman bagged a sensational hat-trick as the Linnets slumped to a miserable 4-1 defeat in the United Counties League Cup final.

After Washington had taken his personal tally to 52 goals in an incredible season, Setchell said the teenager’s match-winning performance was the difference between the two teams on the day.

The Linnets boss said: “We knew about the lad Washington. He’s obviously an outstanding player. He’s probably the best I’ve seen at this level, or the level above, for a long time and he’s scored three goals.

“He was the difference between the two teams and I expect him to go onto bigger and better things. I’ll be very surprised if he’s at this level, or even the level above, next season. I know there were a lot of scouts looking at him and he done himself no harm.

“There are no complaints from me, they deserved the victory. They’ve got the outstanding player and obviously we haven’t.”

Danny Beaumont had given Lynn the lead in the seventh minute as Setchell’s side started the game brightly. However, his charges – who have won just one of their three matches since losing to Long Buckby – struggled to recover from Stuart Cobb’s equaliser just after the half-hour mark.

Setchell said: “We went 1-0 up, and we should have been 3-0 up. We had chances but then they hit us with a sucker punch to make it 1-1. While we’re feeling sorry for ourselves we get done by a bit of magic from Washington and it’s 2-1. We gambled and went three at the back in the second half and they exploited it.

“We’ve had a few lows in the last three weeks. But I thought if anything was going to lift us it was going to be a cup final. And that’s what it looked like in the first 25 minutes. But as soon as they scored we sort of semi-folded again.”

Despite their miserable end to the campaign, UCL Premier Division runners-up Lynn could still play at Step Four next season, if all of the promotion slots are not filled across Step Five of the non-league ladder.

Setchell said: “It’s been a long last three weeks, after a great 36. It’ll make us stronger as a group. We don’t know what league we’ll be in and we’ll have to see where that takes us. The lads are down and deflated. They didn’t want to finish the season like this and neither did I.”

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