Visitors Chester had conceded just 44 goals in their previous 50 league games, and as expected their defence proved a tough nut to crack, with Matty Williams, Harrison Burke, Ollie Heywood and Declan Weeks forming a formidable back line, while Boro are also looking very strong defensively this season, writes Steve Adamson.
Iwan Murray fired wide for Chester, then Boro’s Luca Colville had a shot blocked by Kevin Roberts.
Maloney sent a free-kick forward, and Dom Tear glanced his header wide, then a Kieran Weledji header was deflected over by Burke.
Heywood’s cross was headed straight at Boro keeper Joe Cracknell by skipper George Glendon, before Boro almost went ahead on 36 minutes when Curtis Durose had a shot cleared off the line by Roberts, Alex Brown blazing the rebound over.
Kieran Coates burst clear for Chester, and his low shot forced a superb one-handed save from Cracknell, then Weeks had a strike blocked by Will Thornton on his 99th Boro appearance.
Boro had a couple of chances, as a Durose cross was dipping under the bar, but keeper Wyll Stanway tipped the ball over, and from the corner by Maloney, Weledji headed wide, then Colville laid off to Frank Mulhern, who fired over.
Chester probably shaded possession in the second half, with Bailey Gooda heading a couple of dangerous crosses clear, Thornton, Brown and Weledji getting in strong tackles, and an Elliott Whitehouse cross was headed against the top of the bar by tall striker Kole Hall, then Cracknell raced out to block the onrushing Glendon.
Boro went close when Mulhern passed to Tear on the left, and he went past Kieran Coates before firing wide of the far post.
Boro keeper Cracknell got down to save a fierce low shot from Hall, while at the other end Colville battled for possession, and passed to Alex Purver, who fed Maloney on the right, and he drilled a powerful shot wide of the left-hand post.
With the game into its final minute, Brown’s ball forward struck the hand of a defender, 25 yards out, to the left of the penalty arc, and Maloney curled the free-kick over the four-man wall and inside the left-hand post to grab a dramatic late winner for Boro, and they could have doubled their lead in the very last seconds, when Michael Coulson, on as sub for his first game back after injury, rounded keeper Stanway and had his shot handled on the line by Harrison Burke, who was red-carded.
Coulson took the spot-kick, but, with the last kick of the match, his shot was saved by the legs of keeper Stanway.
BORO - Cracknell, Weledji, Brown, Maloney, Thornton, Gooda, Purver, Durose (Coulson 73), Mulhern (Charles 86), Tear (Marshall 79), Colville
CHESTER - Stanway, Weeks, Burke, Williams, Glendon (Evans 73), Murray (Whitehouse 59), Hall, Heywood, Coates, Roberts, Maguire
REF - James Bancroft
GOAL - BORO - Lewis Maloney 90
RED CARD - CHESTER - Harrison Burke
YELLOW CARDS - CHESTER - Iwan Murray, Ollie Heywood
BORO MAN OF MATCH - Bailey Gooda
ATTENDANCE - 1,815 (233 away)