Powell's freefalling side looked destined for a fourth straight defeat when Andy Reid scored after just two minutes against his old club.
But Marvin Sordell, on loan from Bolton, struck soon after the interval to secure a much-needed point for the Addicks.
"I'm very proud of my team," said boss Powell.
"We've been under pressure losing the last three games, and then to go 1-0 down after two minutes - it was easily our best performance of the season.
"I thought my players were superb, they handled the situation tremendously well and the crowd were outstanding. They saw a team who really cared.
"Even though we haven't won I think they will be very pleased and very proud.
"Disappointed to go behind so early is an understatement, but for 88 minutes we were excellent and there was only one team in it for me."
Powell is now hoping his side can kick on and start to climb the Championship table after a tough start to the season.
"I hope it's a catalyst," he added. "It's going to be an up and down year for us but at times like this you find out about yourself and your players and we want it to be a building block."