Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Marlon Samuels spared West Indies' blushes but England remain in control of the first Test at Lord's.
The pair rescued the tourists from 65-4 after tea on day three, reaching stumps on 120-4 still 35 runs adrift after England were bowled out for 398 in mid-afternoon.
Ian Bell made 61 while Jonny Bairstow (16) impressed for as long as his debut innings lasted, and Graeme Swann chipped in with a brisk and possible crucial 30.
West Indies therefore faced an hour of batting before tea, and duly stumbled to 36-3 - losing three wickets for no run just before the interval.
Openers Kieran Powell and Adrian Barath fell in successive overs, following a promising stand.
Barath edged behind when Tim Bresnan got one to leave him off the pitch up the slope, and Powell ran out of patience and mis-pulled Stuart Broad high to square leg.
That was bad enough, but haplessly the Windies also lost Kirk Edwards for a duck when he was run out by a direct hit from cover by Jonny Bairstow following a mis-communication with Darren Bravo over an aborted single.
Bravo and Chanderpaul did not have a run between them, and then took risk management to extremes after tea in an hour of near strokelessness.
The culmination was not a release of pressure from England but success for Swann, who deceived Bravo with a ball which did not turn and clattered into off-stump, with the left-hander waving it through for the only dismissal of the final session.
Chanderpaul had survived on two when James Anderson failed to cling on to barely a half-chance, diving to his left at third slip, off Bresnan.
He proceeded to play with a dourness few could even approach, following his first-innings 87 not out with an unbeaten 34 at stumps in which he needed 46 balls to warm up to his first boundary, keeping out 95 in all to date, as Marlon Samuels caught the bug too in an obdurate and unbroken half-century stand.
Captain Andrew Strauss added only a single to his overnight 121 as England resumed on 259-3.
Bell played the long game in a 105-ball stay, to shepherd the tail - among whom Swann top-scored with 30 from only 25 balls - and ensure a first-innings lead of 155.
With Strauss gone first thing on another cloudy morning, England appeared intent on swift progress rather than mere consolidation.
But they lost four wickets before lunch, and were in danger of failing to take full advantage of what had seemed set to be an irresistible mid-match superiority.
The captain lasted less than four overs, getting a thin inside edge behind off Kemar Roach, who finished with figures of 3-87, as the tourists redoubled their efforts with the second new ball.
The contact went undetected until West Indies reviewed the decision, and Hotspot evidence ended Strauss' six-and-a-half-hour innings.
Debutant Bairstow quickly looked the part at the highest level, his Test batting career under way with a stuttering single to cover but soon containing two high-class boundaries clipped off his legs from each of the new-ball bowlers.
When he missed a delivery which came in on the angle from Roach, though, Bairstow sensibly saw no reason to review Marais Erasmus' lbw verdict.
Matt Prior was the next foil to Bell's studied accumulation, and from only the third ball he faced England's wicketkeeper greeted the first over from Darren Sammy with an on-drive for four.
He added five more runs from the next two deliveries, to bring up the 300, and was operating at a run-a-ball rate until he became debutant Shannon Gabriel's first Test victim - loosely aiming to leg, and bowled middle stump.
When Bresnan then hung a defensive bat out at Sammy to be caught behind for a duck, England were frittering away their dominance.
Broad had his off bail clipped by Fidel Edwards from the first ball he faced after lunch - making Swann's six fours all the more important in a ninth-wicket stand of 55 in under eight overs.
But Gabriel, who ended with 3-60, bowled him, much as he had Prior earlier, and then had Bell last out - pulling to deep square leg, and well held by Powell.