Joe Denly was closing in on a maiden Test century at tea after the opener and Ben Stokes made Australia toil.
England led by 157 runs at lunch on the third day at The Oval, progressing to 88-2 with Rory Burns and Joe Root the men to fall.
Jonny Bairstow had Steve Smith diving to make his ground and the Australia batsman accepted he was fooled.
Gareth Southgate claimed England's players are already preparing for racist abuse when they face Bulgaria in October.
Numerous examples of racist abuse have happened in football this season, with Emile Heskey giving his take on the situation.
Steve Smith's score of 80 was a meagre one by his standards, and Jofra Archer could tell Australia's talisman was not on top form.
England are in good shape to draw the Ashes series at 2-2 but Marnus Labuschagne insists Australia are determined to finish with a win.
England lead by 78 after day two of the final Ashes Test, Jofra Archer taking his second six-wicket haul of the series.