Australia set 299 for victory
Australia have a target of 299 to win the fourth Test after bowling England out for 330 before lunch on day four at Chester-le-Street.
Ryan Harris finished with career-best figures of 7-117 but England added 96 runs in 21 overs despite losing centurion Ian Bell with the addition of just eight to his overnight 105.
Nightwatchman Tim Bresnan counter-attacked to great effect with 45 while Graeme Swann added a swift 30 after Harris threatened to run through the tail.
Bell was bowled off an inside edge to a ball that kept low and Matt Prior saw his stumps broken first ball after a ricochet off his elbow.
Bresnan - who had narrowly survived an LBW review when on 12 - responded by striking three boundaries in succession off Jackson Bird at one stage as 60 runs, and three wickets, came in the first 10 overs of the second new ball.
Harris bounced out Stuart Broad (13), caught off his left glove in the gully, to end a breezy stand of 24 with Bresnan.
The Yorkshire all-rounder eventually became Harris' seventh wicket when he chipped back a simple caught-and-bowled.
But there was more frustration still to come for Australia when Steve Smith dropped Swann at long-on off Nathan Lyon (3-55), costing them another 13 runs before James Anderson was last out caught-behind off the spinner.
Opening batsmen Chris Rogers and David Warner had around 20 minutes to negotiate before lunch, which they did successfully, reaching 11-0.