A first-half header from Connor McMullan and a late strike from Payne gave Rose a 2-1 win over Tynecastle at Meggetland means Rose are now just two points behind leaders Penicuik in a fascinating East of Scotland Premier Division title race.
Payne was signed from Kennoway Star Hearts in November as a replacement for Tommy Coyne and made an instant impact before picking up an injury.
“He came in absolutely flying with four goals in two games and then picked up what looked like a serious knee injury against Newtongrange.
“He’s been out with that and Covid as well. So for Lewis to come back, play like that and score the winner is fantastic. I’m delighted for him.”
Off the bottom
Whitehill Welfare moved off the bottom for the first time all season with a stunning 1-0 win over fourth-placed Musselburgh Athletic at Olivebank.
The hosts had Declan O’Kane sent off early in the second half and Whitehill capitalised a few minutes later when a low Liam Ireland free-kick drifted into the net.
Newtongrange Star picked up a point in a 1-1 draw at Dunbar United thanks to a Steven Froude penalty in the 70th minute.
Dunbar had taken the lead 13 minutes earlier with Darren Smith’s first goal for the club.
Elsewhere, Sandy Cunningham scored twice, one of them from the penalty spot, and Errol Douglas also found the net in Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale’s topsy-turvy 3-3 draw at Blackburn United.
The West Lothian side came from behind twice and led once, Callum Heath grabbing a brace, including a fine free-kick.
Michael Browne’s penalty for Blackburn in the 72nd minute secured the draw.
First Division Conference A
Leith Athletic stay top on goal difference thanks to a 2-0 home win over third-placed Dunipace.
Kayne Paterson’s 18th goal of the season and a stunning Michael Barfoot free-kick in the second half made it 16 wins out of 20 for Leith.
Haddington Athletic are second on goal difference but have two games in hand after a hard-fought 1-0 win at Coldstream, Shaun Hill’s penalty on 69 minutes securing all three points for Joe Hamill’s team.
Gavin Pettigrew grabbed a 93th-minute equaliser for Craigroyston at Paties Road to end a run of five straight defeats in a 2-2 draw with Edinburgh United.
Dylan Tait had given the visitors the lead, before Sonny Swanson and Stephen Scott put United in front seven minutes from time.
First Division Conference B
Second-placed Preston Athletic closed the gap on Glenrothes at the top after Nathan Stokes secured a hard-fought 1-0 win at Peebles Rovers.
Goals from Lewis Russell and Jason Young helped ten-man Easthouses Lily come from a goal down to win 2-1 at bottom-of-the-table Hawick.
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