Lee Westgarth was integral to Horden’s win as he scored twice either side of an equaliser from Matty Hallliday.
And Payne’s side went on to claim a big win as John Bowes grabbed their third goal of the game just before the hour-mark – although they had to hold on after James Woods pulled a goal back for the hosts.
The win only enhances the belief that Horden are favourites to get over the line and secure the Wearside League title, but Payne warned his side that there is “a long way to go yet”.
He said: “We aren’t really saying too much about going up, I have played and managed enough to know that nothing is won or lost in January or February.
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“It is starting to look promising but it’s a long wait to go yet.”
FC Hartlepool lie within two points of the top three with a 5-1 home win against struggling Coxhoe Athletic.
Brad Thompson gave the visitors a surprise lead in the early stages, but braces from Jamie Tumilty and Ash Clark and a single strike from Josh Lloyd helped Terry Hill’s side to a comfortable three points.
Two goals from Ben Darville and one from Liam Darville helped Richmond Town to a 3-0 win at Annfield Plain and Windscale took all three points from their visit to Farringdon Detached with a 1-0 win at Leyburn Grove thanks to a goal from Kieran Fraser.
Durham United claimed a 2-0 win against Silksworth CW on Friday night as a first-half brace from Michael Ross saw off Jamie Cole’s side at New Ferens Park.
Levi Collins took his tally in the Monkwearmouth Charity Cup to 13 goals in three ties as his side reached the final of the competition with a 7-1 demolition of Darlington RA.
Daniel Nolan and Steven Graham were also on target for David Crumbie’s side, who had to recover from falling behind to an early goal from Jonathan Hope.
After the game Boldon boss David Crumbie said: “We caused them problems on every attack, and we deserved the win.”
Hebburn Town Reserves and Darlington Town will face each other in the final of the Durham Trophy after they came through semi-final ties on Saturday.
The Hornets eased to a 7-1 win against Northern Alliance club Winlaton Vulcans as a Josh Houghton hat-trick, a brace from Kaleb Young and a goal apiece from Daniel Wright and Graeme McCall helped Brian Johnson’s side into the second final of the season.
Darlington Town looked to be easing their way into the final as Bailey Prudhoe, James Beauchamp and Jim Wilson gave them their side a 3-0 lead as half-time approached in their semi-final against Wolviston.
Mark Sims and Josh Chambers helped the visitors back into the game, but they were unable to prevent Town setting up their final date with the Hornets.