CHERRIES coach Stephen Purches hailed Josh Carmichael’s strength of character after the teenager had overcome a bout of butterflies to play a starring role in helping Gosport Borough reach Wembley.

Carmichael, who is on a month’s loan with Boro, turned in a stirring second-half showing as Alex Pike’s 10 men saw off their Conference South rivals Havant & Waterlooville to book a place in the final of the FA Trophy.

The 19-year-old midfielder had come off the bench during the first leg at Westleigh Park before he was handed a start in yesterday’s second leg in front of a crowd of 2,901 at Privett Park.

And Carmichael, who attended Poole Grammar School, played his part as Boro followed up their 1-1 draw at Havant with a 2-0 win, former Bashley striker Tim Sills bagging both goals.

Cherries development squad coach Purches was among a packed crowd at Privett Park where Boro were reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of defender and captain Brett Poate during the second half.

Purches told the Daily Echo: “I could tell he was a little nervous in the first half but he did very well in the second, especially after Gosport had gone down to 10 men and he was their outlet.

“He showed tremendous character during an excellent second-half display. It was big day for him and he is going to take a lot from the experience.”

Carmichael’s first month expires before the Wembley final on March 23 against Conference outfit Cambridge United and a decision will be taken nearer the time as to whether it will be extended.

Born in Poole, Carmichael was handed a shock debut by Cherries as a 16-year-old when he came off the bench during a 2-0 win at Exeter in September 2011.

Coincidentally, Lee Bradbury, the manager who gave Carmichael his debut and first professional contract at Dean Court, is currently in charge at Havant & Waterlooville.

Carmichael, capped at under-16 level by Scotland, also made three first-team appearances last season, as a substitute during a 2-1 home defeat by Walsall before starting at Crawley and Coventry in the two games before Eddie Howe returned to the club as manager.

His Gosport team-mates yesterday included former Cherries pair Danny Smith and Sammy Igoe, while development squad colleague Benji Buchel and Dan Strugnell, who left Dean Court in May 2013, were in the Havant & Waterlooville squad.