Having trailed 0-10 at half time, Gladiators produced an excellent second half performance and at one stage led 14-10.
But Little Hulton hit back with two tries in the last 15 minutes and led 20-14 with two minutes remaining.
Chester hammered away at the Reds line and scrum half Dan Harvey scored with seconds left on the clock, making the score 18-20 with the conversion to come.
Harvey stepped up and struck his attempt well but the wind pulled the ball agonisingly wide of the posts leaving the Reds to celebrate an 18-20 win.
Both teams contributed to a thrilling and hard fought match despite the absence of some key players on either side.
Gladiators started the game brightly and enjoyed the majority of possession in the opening 10 minutes but the Reds defence held firm.
Little Hulton scored the opening try of the game on 15 minutes and added another on 25 minutes to lead 10-0.
Chester had plenty of ball but a combination of some misfiring attack and solid defence kept them scoreless.
The second half was a different story with Gladiators finding some momentum for three unaswered tries.
Forward Luke Edwards crashed over on 48 minutes and in-form centre Damian Tierney then added another try on 55 minutes.
Harvey then crossed out wide for his first try of the game on 64 minutes to put Chester in front, although crucially he was only able to land one of his conversion attempts in the difficult wind.
Had Chester scored next the game could have been over, but the visiting Reds had other ideas and two tries moved them back in front and set up the grandstand finish.
Prop Kellum Friday was named man of the match for Chester, who travel to Bolton Mets this weekend.