RYAN BOWMAN is being challenged to make a late surge for York City’s golden boot.

The former Hereford forward has converted penalties in the Minstermen’s last two matches to take his goal tally to eight for the campaign.

That places him five behind leading marksman Wes Fletcher, who has been on the bench for the last three games, and one adrift of Ryan Jarvis, who last started a match on New Year’s Day.

City boss Nigel Worthington believes any one of the trio could head the club’s scoring charts at the end of the season and, ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Portsmouth, is encouraging a three-way shoot-out to finish top of the pile.

He said: “Competition for places or whatever else is always healthy within the group. We have got nine games to go and it will be interesting to see who finishes top scorer. Bowey is on eight now and, hopefully, there are more to follow from all three of them before the end of the season.”

A crowd of 16,000 is expected at the home of the 2008 FA Cup final winners and Worthington has called on his players to rise to the occasion, while not under- estimating the fallen giants, who currently hover just four points above the Sky Bet League Two relegation zone.

The City chief added: “It will be a tremendous game and a wonderful football atmosphere between the two sets of supporters. That’s what football is all about and we have got to embrace that situation and step into the game on our front foot.

“You can forget the league table, though, because Portsmouth are a decent side. I watched them draw 0-0 at Chesterfield the other week and they played very well.

“If we do our jobs and do them well, then we can get a good result but, if we are at all under-par for whatever reason, Portsmouth have enough in their side to do us damage.”

The Minstermen travel to Fratton Park two points shy of a play-off place and Worthington reckons the key to a sustained top-seven challenge will lie in the players’ mental approach to the remaining fixtures.

“The squad is sufficiently equipped to give it a real good go,” he reasoned. “I think it will all come down to how we prepare for each match as individuals and as a group.

“That means getting things right in terms of your food and fluid intake and rest. It’s also about starting to really focus on the next game two or three days before. That has to be done if we are to achieve what we all want to achieve.”

Worthington pointed out that the team’s performance during the next two games, with bottom-of-the-table Torquay visiting on Tuesday, will determine whether he looks to recruit anybody prior to next Thursday’s deadline for loan signings.

“Any new player would need to be somebody who could make an impact,” he said. “I don’t want to bring anybody in for the sake of it and disrupt what we have got so, if the players continue to do what they are doing, there will be no need for new faces.”