A CONTROVERSIAL penalty decision and a spectacular brace from Graham Kavanagh handed Charlton only their second defeat of the season at Brunton Park.

Former Leeds defender Ian Harte gave the hosts the lead five minutes before half-time, tapping home the rebound after on-loan keeper Carl Ikeme had saved his spot kick.

The penalty decision caused uproar amongst the Charlton players and boss Phil Parkinson, as referee Mark Haywood deemed that Deon Burton had fouled Danny Livesey though few others spotted this alleged infringement.

Indeed, United had more of a claim for a penalty minutes previously for a shove by Sam Sodje on the same player, leaving many to wonder if Haywood was attempting to redress the balance.

After Harte had opened the scoring, Parkinson's furious reactions saw him dismissed to the director's box, and Parky admitted that he was just as angered by his players' slow reactions to the penalty save as he was the decision.

He explained: "I lost my cool, which is not good.

"It's a passionate game and sometimes those things happen.

"That decision hasn't cost us the game today, but why he gave that penalty I'm really not sure.

"I've asked the ref and he said he felt there was a push in there. It just seemed to be so quick, it was as if he'd almost made his mind up to award a penalty before the ball had come into the box."

But before the first period could conclude, the Addicks equalised with a penalty of their own after Lloyd Sam cut inside from the right and provided a slick through pass for Burton to latch onto before being brought down by Kavanagh.

Burton converted from 12 yards for his sixth league goal of the season, while the home side continued to dispute the decision - but Parky feels that there was nothing debatable about this penalty.

He added: "It was a definite penalty, and we were always going to get it.

"But today we didn't play as well as we can do.

"We had spells where we did play OK. I felt we were careless in possession at times, though, and gave the ball away cheaply and got punished for it.

"We've just got to take it on the chin and move on to next week."

Indeed, after dominating play for the first ten minutes after the break, Charlton proceeded to submit possession and confidence to the resurgent Cumbrians, with two choice long-distance strikes from Kavanagh sealing defeat for Parky's men.

And Parkinson had nothing but praise for the strikes, adding: "They were two goals that could have graced the Premier League.

"Of course that gave them a lift and they raised their game, and we perhaps didn't respond to it as well as we could.

"All in all, it's been a disappointing day for us."

But the Addicks chief refused to be too critical of his players in a game where patches of good football and hard work just weren't enough to end October on a positive note.

He explained: "It's a long old journey to come up and we wanted to get back on the bus with a win, but it wasn't to be.

"We've got to improve on things that we did on the day and we will do that.

"A win would have set us up nicely, but we didn't get it and that's it.

"I'm not going to speak about the lads' attitude and application as all the way through the season it's been excellent.

"Today it didn't go for us. We got beaten by a bizarre penalty award, and two excellent goals.

"Any defeat is tough to take, we've got high expectations at Charlton and we are disappointed by today's result.

"We are not going to get carried away with it, we've just got to make sure that the things we spoke about in the dressing room about what we could do better we put into practice."