Australia were frustrated after a slow day three of the fifth Ashes test at The Oval, though England will be confident of avoiding defeat after batting for on a pitch that provided little for either batsman or bowler.
The home side finished the day 247-4 with Ian Bell on 29 and debutante Chris Woakes on 15, after having hit his first balled faced in tests for four.
It was a day that offered little for the packed crowd, as a very slow pitch meant the scoring rate was very low.
England did start well, however, with Alistair Cook and Joe Root putting together their biggest first wicket partnership in the series before the captain fell early again, edging behind after playing away from his body to a Ryan Harris delivery for 25.
There was little change in the speed of the game, but Australia captain Michael Clarke will be proud of the discipline his bowlers showed in not allowing any free shots.
It didn't stop all the batsmen getting good starts, however, and Root will be disappointed with the shot that saw him caught on 68 when he was looking good for a big score.
Nathan Lyon got one to bounce a bit and the Yorkshireman top edged a sweep to Shane Watson at short fine leg.
Jonathan Trott was trapped LBW walking across his stumps to a full inswinger from Mitchell Starc for 40 after he and Kevin Pietersen had put on a watchful partnership.
It was hard going though and the crowd were reduced to cheering singles as the game looked to be petering out.
Pietersen ground out an impressive fifty but didn't go any further after edging behind a full delivery from Starc that was nearly yorker length.
It was a disappointing end for him, but it was an important innings if England are to avoid the follow-on, never mind avoid defeat.
Woakes' early flourish was provided some welcome excitement for the Oval crowd and the young man from Warwickshire looked in good nick as he and bell saw out the remaining overs.
England did what they needed to do in reply to Australia's total of 492 and they will be confident of batting for much of Day Four to make sure they finish the series without having lost a match.