Jack Colback has blamed the “beach balls and inflatables” that were thrown onto the pitch for Newcastle’s inability to beat Aston Villa on Saturday.
The Magpies headed into the clash with already relegated Villa at the weekend knowing that a victory would boost their own chances of Premier League survival.
Newcastle were 17th ahead of the game, with Sunderland one point behind having played one game fewer.
Sam Allardyce’s side beat Chelsea 3-2 on Saturday to strengthen their grip on a Premier League place, but Newcastle limped to a 0-0 draw at Villa Park.
Newcastle are now 18th, one point behind Sunderland, who still have a game in hand. Norwich are three points behind Rafael Benitez’s side.
Speaking after the game, Colback blamed the “beach balls and inflatables” for his side’s inability to inflict a 27th league defeat from 27 games on Villa.
“We never really looked under threat defensively, but we never really had that killer instinct going forward,” Colback said.
“I can’t really answer the question as to why – we knew how big the game was. It’s difficult to put your finger on it. We knew how important it was.
“I don’t know whether a bit of fatigue kicked in or what, but we weren’t quite as energetic as we have been.
“Obviously the beach balls and inflatables getting put on the pitch made it difficult. We didn’t really get momentum in the game.
“It was stop-start. Everyone’s gutted. It’s obviously out of our hands now but we just have to pray Everton do us a favour.
“They’re a good side, so there’s no reason why they can’t go to Sunderland and get a result.
“Then we’ll back our home form to get a win, and then you’re looking at Sunderland’s result again.”