The penalty award, for a push by Torquay centre-back Chris Robertson on Pitman, prompted Gulls manager Paul Buckle to storm onto the pitch and vent his anger at referee Jarnail Singh, who had booked 12 players in a tetchy, ill-tempered game.
Howe, who was similarly frustrated with the referee's performance, said: "The penalty decision could have gone either way. I have seen them given and not given. Fortunately it went our way.
"There were not many bad tackles in the game and it was a shame to see so many yellow cards flying around.
"You want the game to flow if possible. But the play was broken up when it did not have to be."