The Scottish midfielder scored a dramatic 89th minute equaliser against Finn Harps at Brandywell before referee Neil Doyle gave him his marching orders for an altercation with goalkeeper Mark Anthony McGinley who was also shown a straight red for his part in an on-field melee.
After reviewing the incident several times, Higgins admitted Thomson was over zealous and ‘unprofessional’ for his part in the clash but was adamant his player’s actions were by no means violent.
The FAI dismissed a midweek appeals hearing by Derry and handed both Thomson and McGinley three match suspensions, a decision which doesn’t sit well with Higgins who questioned the lack of consistency regarding incidents that warrant a suspension.
“Joe’s getting three matches for violent conduct,” confirmed the Derry boss. “Don’t get me wrong, what he did was unprofessional and there’s no getting away from that but it certainly wasn’t violent conduct. I’ve watched it numerous times and there’s no violence or malice in it whatsoever.
“He literally got over-excited and he’s been slightly over-eager to get the ball back but he didn’t once try to hurt an opponent or raise his hand to anybody and yet he’s been given three games. That’s the most disappointing thing.
“If you look at other incidents that have happened throughout the season with players only getting one game, then it’s quite harsh. One game would’ve been fine but three games is harsh.
When you look at occasions when players are getting one game bans and then Joe Thomson and McGinley get three games for what happened on Friday night, if you look at it closely it’s extremely harsh.”
Indeed, when compared to the bad-tempered Dublin derby between Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians at Dalymount Park last month and the controversial flashpoints which resulted in one match suspensions, Thomson’s three match ban appears particularly harsh.
The FAI, however, have come down hard on Derry and Thomson for an incident Higgins refuses to accept as violent conduct.
“The bottom line is Joe is an emotional type of character anyway,” said the Derry supremo. “That’s how he plays and that’s how he is. He scored a brilliant goal and thought, ‘Let’s go and win it’.
“There’s no getting away from the fact he was unprofessional and over-eager but in no way was it violent conduct. Absolutely not!
“We’re now losing someone who is on top of his game for three crucial matches which is very, very disappointing. I don’t want to criticise referees and assistant referees because I know they have an extremely tough job but I’m surprised at the severity of the punishment.
“However, what’s done is done. We have to accept it and move on.”