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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 September, 2003, 16:11 GMT 17:11 UK
Cardiff 5-0 Gillingham
Cardiff City striker Robert Earnshaw
Rob Earnshaw was too hot for Gillingham to handle
Wales international Robert Earnshaw bagged four goals as Cardiff ran riot against Gillingham at Ninian Park.

City, who thrashed Derby 4-1 in their last home match, scored two goals in three first-half minutes through Peter Thorne and Earnshaw's first of the afternoon.

The diminutive forward added his second from close range in the 35th minute, and completed his treble from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time.

He completed the rout with 15 minutes remaining, finishing off a neat move involving Rhys Weston and John Robinson.

Thorne, starting in place of the suspended Alan Lee, fired inches over the crossbar after just four minutes, while at the other end, Marlon King sent a shot wide of the upright as both sides started brightly.

But it was the Bluebirds who took the lead in the 18th minute. A Weston cross from the right was met by Thorne, and his header looped over goalkeeper Jason Brown.

The visitors found themselves two goals down shortly afterwards. Defender Chris Hope failed to clear a Thorne header from Graham Kavanagh's outswinging corner, and Earnshaw pounced to drill home the loose ball.

Youngster James Collins, deputising for Danny Gabbidon in the heart of defence, came to City's rescue on the half-hour mark, blocking King's close-range effort, and moments later the home side extended their lead.

Weston's quickly-taken free-kick caused confusion in the Gillingham penalty area, and Earnshaw, who scored 35 goals last season, was alert once again to lob the ball home from six yards.

Brown brought down Thorne in first-half injury time, and Earnshaw netted the resulting penalty to compound a miserable 45 minutes for Hessenthaler.

King came close to a consolation just after the break with two quick-fire efforts, but Earnshaw was not finished and completed the scoring with his ninth of the campaign.

Weston's swirling cross was headed back across goal by Robinson for the Zambian-born to smash the ball into the roof of the net.

Cardiff: Alexander, Weston, Vidmar, Collins, Barker, Robinson, Boland, Kavanagh, Langley, Earnshaw, Thorne. Subs: Margetson, Bonner, Bowen, Croft, Gordon.

Gillingham: Brown, Hills, Ashby, Cox, Hope, Southall, Nosworthy, Shaw, Spiller, King, Sidibe. Subs: Hessenthaler, Saunders, Wallace, Perpetuini, Bossu.

Referee: A Hall (West Midlands).

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