SOUTHEND United manager Phil Brown labelled Jack Payne a ‘magician’ after the youngster’s tricks secured the Shrimpers a 2-1 win at Tranmere Rovers.

The victory, which was Southend’s third League Two triumph in a row, pushed them up to fifth in the table.

And Brown was full of praise for Payne, who bagged Blues’ first goal at Prenton Park.

“I think Jack’s a magician when he’s out there,” said Brown.

“He’s a little genius, a wizard if you like and he was very dangerous again here.

“He came off at the end and said he could have had three but I told him he could probably have had about 10.

“I thought our front four all posed a threat and that’s an encouraging sign for us.”

Payne’s close range finish was his fifth goal of the season.

And the 20-year-old was delighted to get back on the score-sheet having failed to hit the back of the net in his previous eight outings.

“Going a few games without a goal didn’t really affect me because I knew if I got chances I would score,” said Payne, who came through the youth ranks at Roots Hall.

“It was great to score here and help us get the win because it was a massive win.

“It’s so tight at the top that every good results really helps and Tranmere made it hard for us so we did well to get the three points.”

Tranmere defender Will Aimson headed the ball in to his own net after Payne’s opening effort to secure victory for the Shrimpers.

But Payne felt he should have scored more to make the victory more convincing.

“I had two other chances in the game that I would expect myself to take if I’m honest,” said the youngster.

“It was a bit disappointing not to score more but we still got the win and that’s the most important thing.”

Payne will now be hoping to stay in the side as one more league start this season will automatically trigger another year in his Shrimpers contract.

And he would love to make further appearances in his current role, playing just behind Barry Corr in attack.

“It’s my favourite position if I’m honest,” said Payne.

“I can get on the ball and get in to areas to get goals which I hope to keep on doing to help the team get more good results.”