The 21-year-old stopper was thrown in at the deep end after Scott Carson picked up an injury in the warm-up, and Perch believes Nicholls coped fantastically well.
He told the club's official website: "One thing I have to say is that Lee (Nicholls) did brilliantly to come in so late on in the afternoon under difficult circumstances.
"He obviously thought he was going to be on the bench but he showed just how prepared he can be by being ready, I thought he was exceptional.
"As soon as we knew Lee was going to be in the team, we saw it as a responsibility not to put him under any unnecessary pressure and to look after him.
"He took care of his side of the game extremely well, he came out to claim the ball and he distributed it well in tough conditions with the swirling wind.
"Lee had a full season out on loan with Northampton, so he knows what it's like to play league football and he showed maturity in his performance that we all know he's got.
"He's got real game confidence from going out on loan and it was great to have someone like Lee to step in with Scott's being absent."