With 46 games down, for most the EFL season is at an end. But not for 10 teams whose campaigns are now at the critical stage of the play-offs.

Having taken part in six unsuccessful attempts in the past, Royals fans know all about the winner-takes-all nature of the knockout competition- with Huddersfield Town, Luton Town, Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United all competing for a place in the highly-sought-after Premier League.

But what connections do the Berkshire Boys have with this years’ play-off sides?


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Luton Town

Paul Ince’s sides last opponents of the season, an Orjan Nyland blunder gifted the Hatters a 1-0 win on the final day of the regular campaign as Nathan Jones’ side clinched their highest league position in more than 30 years.

The stand-out connection between the two sides is Gabe Osho, the Reading-born central defender who spent 12 years with the Royals.

Making 10 first team appearances for Reading, the 23-year-old departed to join Luton in 2020 and has played 26 times this season- the same amount of appearances as he made last season on loan at Yeovil Town and Rochdale.

Another more tenuous link is that interim-manager Ince took his coaching badges with Luton manager Jones; and Hatters legend Mick Hartford, who is on the coaching staff at Kenilworth Road, scored the only goal for the Bedfordshire-based side against Reading in the Simod Cup final which Ian Branfoot’s side won 4-1.


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Sheffield United

The Yorkshire Blades have many a link with Reading, including two former Royals in their ranks. Northern Ireland international Oliver Norwood played 92 times for the club between 2014-2016 after joining from Huddersfield Town. One of the best passers of the ball the club have seen over the last decade – the central midfielder departed Berkshire in 2016 to join Brighton. Winning the Championship in 2016/17, he was loaned to Fulham and repeated the feat in 2017/18 and completed the promotion hattrick with Chris Wilder’s men in 2018/19. A regular in every season at Bramall Lane, Norwood has played more than 150 times- scoring seven.

Despite never playing for Reading, full-back Jayden Bogle was born and raised in the town- going to school in Tilehurst. Dropped by the Royals at 14, he cut his teeth at Swindon Town before moving to the Midlands with Derby County. A break-through star under Frank Lampard in 2018/19, Bogle played 90 times for the Rams until his move to the Steel City in 2020. His goal at the SCL Stadium in November was the only strike in a 0-1 win for Slavisa Jokanovic’s side.


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Nottingham Forest

Steve Cooper took the former European Champions from the bottom three to the cusp of the top three this season as the East-Midlands club fight for promotion to the Premier League for the first time this Millennium.

Super Reds captain, Lewis Grabban, spent the second half of the 2016/17 campaign on loan at Reading- scoring three in 17 appearances as Jaap Stam’s side reached the play-off final.

Grabban has scored more than 50 goals in 150 appearances for the City Ground outfit and has been promoted three times in his impressive career.


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Huddersfield Town

The most difficult of the four Championship play-off sides, no players have any noticeable link to Reading Football Club.

Similar to Grabban at Forest, Hogg played at the 2017 Championship play-off final between the two clubs- and will be the only Terriers player to do so.


League One


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Wycombe Wanderers

 The Chairboys won the ‘Battle of Bucks’ against MK Dons to set up a final clash with Sunderland at Wembley.

Only a matter of half hour down the M4, many players have made the journey between Adams Park and the SCL, with three in the current Wycombe squad.

Key players Garath McCleary and Jordan Obita both had long, established careers in RG2 with more than 460 appearances for the club between the two.

At the more formative stage of his career, 20-year-old Oliver Pendlebury came through the Reading Academy and made one first team appearance in an FA Cup defeat.

Released at the end of the 2020/21 campaign, the midfielder played nine times for the League One side this season, as well as four times for Woking on loan.

Another link is much-loved manager Gareth Ainsworth.

Dubbed ‘Wild Thing’, the 49-year-old icon of Adams Park played semi-professional football for Woodley Town, who play their games at the Rivermoor- home of Reading City FC.


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League Two


Mansfield Town

Nigel Clough’s side finished a point within the play-offs and look to gain promotion to the third tier for the first time in more than two decades.

The only clear link between the two sides is 36-year-old midfielder Stephen Quinn.

Joining the Royals in 2015, the Republic of Ireland international endured an injury-struck three years in Berkshire- playing just 45 times.

Released in 2018, he went on to play more than 100 times for Burton Albion before joining up with the Stags in 2020.


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Swindon Town

Near-rivals Swindon won their final four on the bounce to reach the fourth-tier play-offs by a point.

Three former Royals Academy graduates are now at the County Ground, they have made varying degrees of impact in Wiltshire.

Midfielder Ryan East has played seven times for the Robins since arriving in the summer, while goalkeeper Lewis Ward has played 15 times and central-defender Akin Odimayo has been a almost undroppable, playing 41 times.


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Port Vale

The side from Stoke-on-Trent missed out on automatic promotion by just two points but will be lead into the knock-out tournament by former Royals coach Andy Crosby.

A close ally of former manager Nigel Adkins, Crosby was at the SCL from March 2013 until December 2014.

Originally arriving at Vale Park as an assistant to Darrell Clarke, the former Bristol Rovers manager has had to step back temporarily on compassionate leave and Crosby has stepped up as interim boss.


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Northampton Town

Relegated from League One in 2020, the Cobblers have finished fourth and now third in their quest to regain third tier status.

Former Royal Joseph Mills is currently at Sixfield, joining in 2020 and making 45 appearances since.

Mills, the brother of controversial former captain Matt Mills, was a part of the 2011/12 Championship-winning side, playing 16 times before being shipped out to Burnley and Oldham Athletic on loan.